I love a good story.
I love the way it can transport you to other worlds and times and lose you in its narrative. I love the emotions it can produce and the almost euphoric feeling it gives when the good guy wins and the bad guy gets justice.
I love the way a good story can teach important truths that you never forget. I love the pictures it creates and the escape from reality it can give.
I love a good well told story.
So I have often wondered why I don’t always love reading the Bible.
I’ve heard numerous times that the Bible contains the “Greatest Story Ever Told.”
It’s the story of God reaching down into a sin-infested dark infused world and reclaiming what was once His.
It’s the story of the Kingdom of God slowly making its way through earth until one day all nations will know and acknowledge there is a God in heaven.
It’s the story of God making His Name great by taking a single family and changing the world.
The Bible does hold the most amazing story ever.
So why are there so many other stories I enjoy reading more? I love reading stories filled with truths found in the Scriptures. Chronicles of Narnia, One Hundred Cupboards, Lord of the Rings, Voice in the Wind… among many others. More often than not I find myself eagerly grabbing one of those books and flipping through its pages barely able to contain my enjoyment. While the Bible sits on my shelf patiently waiting for me to continue where I left off the day (or two days) prior.
Why is it so hard to enjoy reading the Bible when I love the story it tells?
I have been ashamed, embarrassed, and uneasy by my lack of enthusiasm at times. How can I love any book more than the Bible? How can I love any story more than the Greatest Story?
I have wrestled with this issue more times than I care to admit.
Until one day I realized… The Bible isn’t a normal story book and it was never meant to be read like one.
The Bible does tell a story yes, but not the same way the Lord of the Rings or Narnia does. Those books are meant to be read and enjoyed and then put away. Yes, there are amazing truth hidden in their pages and they have depth and insight. But they’re first and foremost just stories meant to be enjoyed, not studied or meditated on, not memorized and recited. They’re a bit like big parables with a truth inside but not exhaustive in the knowledge they give. They are easy to enjoy because you can simply read, grab the lesson, and go. It’s what they were created for.
But the Bible is different.
The Bible is a story but first it is The Word of God. It holds a mountain of meaning in every single verse. The Rabbis say even the spaces between the words have meaning. Even the very letters used carry significance. We can and I believe will study this Book for an eternity and we will never come to an end of the truth, meaning, and depth it contains.
The Bible is an eternal book with timeless truths. But it was written by the Finger of God through the hands of men, would we expect anything less?
The Bible is not simply a story; it is so much more.
So you cannot treat it like a simple story book.
The Bible takes work to be enjoyed.
I realized that what I enjoy most about the Bible is when I study it, meditate on it, memorize and recite it.
I love the thrill of seeing something new jump off the pages.
I love seeing the way different passages speak to each other and help to explain each other.
I love when a specific book finally begins to make sense and you have that “aha!” moment as the Holy Spirit opens your eyes to the message. And in those moments no other book compares!
I love the Bible so much more when I take time with it. When I give it the attention it deserves. And that can be very hard in our fast-paced, microwave oven society where everything is speeding up and getting quicker and easier. Reading and enjoying the Bible forces me to slow down, take time, ponder, sit quietly, process, think without distractions and interruptions.
I have found that I honestly do enjoy sitting down and simply reading the Scriptures some days. But I enjoy the Bible SO MUCH MORE when the Holy Spirit opens my eyes to the truths in its pages. The truths I have missed so many times before. And that takes effort, time, patience, and study.
The Bible wasn’t meant to be read like any other story book out there. Enjoy the lesson and move on. The Bible was meant to be read again and again and again and again and again and again…. And as you read It over and over the lights then click, the truths then connect, the verses then explode with meaning and make the story it’s telling leap off the page and come to life.
To paraphrase one of Jesus’ parables, the Bible is like a treasure. It is buried beneath layers of years, layers of culture, layers of words, and layers of misunderstanding. But the more I dig, the more time and effort I put into finding that treasure, the bigger, the brighter, the more amazing it becomes.
I have learned through the years that the Bible is anything but boring, when I treat the Bible the way it deserves.