Saw this quote the other day, and it rings so true for me:
The most familiar books reveal more about themselves when we attend to them anew. And our growing experience allows us to approach our favorites from different angles. In a sense, rereading the same book produces new insights because the reader is a different person. Indeed, a good book is very much like a mirror: The glass is the same year after year, but the reflection in it changes over time.
Christopher Nelson, President of St. John’s College
And if it’s true than our favorite books are an incredible guide to what God is doing in our hearts. My favorite book is the Bible. I’ve been reading it for over 50 years, nearly every day and it marks well the course my journey has taken. Initially I was absorbed in the story of Jesus and then came upon a long stretch where I read it as a demanding rule book and came way from it either condemned by how far short I fell of its aspirations, or falsely convinced that i could live up to it on my own. Over the years, however, I’ve come to read it not as a rule book, but an unfolding revelation of God’s true nature and how it took thousands of years for us to even begin to see how good and gracious he is. That’s why when you read it you’ll notice that not everything humans thought of God turned out to be true. Jesus came to show us what he was really like and that made all the difference. In him we see the reality of the Father.
Now as I read though this amazing book I see continual insights about God’s passion for humanity, the process by which he changes us and that I don’t have to clean myself up for him. In fact my own best efforts can thwart what he really wants to do in me. And I love how each time I read it, even in the most familiar passages, something new comes into focus I hadn’t seen before. Just the other day Sara and I were reading a well-worn passage in my Bibles, Matthew 6, and we stumbled upon something we had never seen before about why God works in secret and why we might want to help others an unobtrusively as he does.
As I read the Bible now I not only seen humanity growing up to recognize who God really is, but I see my entire journey waking up to that same reality. What a journey it has been! The pages remind me of past misinterpretations that led me down dead ends, and newer insights that have allowed me to increasingly live in the beauty of his work in my life. I’m more patient with passages I don’t understand and refuse to get caught in speculations that we just don’t know yet. I’m relaxed about the fact that what is important in the Bible is very clear, and what is unclear isn’t that important.
It is a grand mirror indeed and a faithful companion on this journey of knowing him.
(Note: Wayne prepared a video series years ago to help people with this process of interpreting Scripture. It is free on line at The Jesus Lens.)