Friday, March 12, 2010

Day 12, Operation March

  • Ezekiel 41-48
  • Daniel
  • Psalms for yesterday and today
  • Proverbs 11-12
Recently I've been thinking about, and by extension talking to God about what He really wants. Is it undying, unwavering, unquestioning trust and faith that will hold to the most extreme tests or is it a relationship? Not that these are mutually exclusive but right now in my life it seems like whenever I invite Him into my life all He says is, "Trust Me."

I do trust Him. In fact, I am willing at this point, to trust Him indefinitely with little or no validation from Him. I'm willing, but I'd really rather not. I believe that He is after an active, real, and present relationship with me, it just doesn't feel like it right now.

Right now it feels like His attitude is, "Our relationship isn't nearly as important as your devotion." Which, frankly, are the words of a jerk. Hence the talking with God about it.

He hasn't responded much to what I've said, and I'm trying not to be annoyed. Today, though, when I read Daniel I noticed that God told Daniel things that were superfluous to their relationship. He didn't stick to what Daniel needed to be obedient. He showed him things in the future, that Daniel couldn't possibly control, influence, or even be affected by.

I got the feeling that God told him just because God was thinking about it and wanted to share what He was seeing and feeling with someone. God's messenger even tells Daniel things like, "As soon as you asked for understanding, the answer was sent. You must really be loved!"

So, I'm thinking that I really shouldn't take my feelings too seriously. God is into relationship, just as I suspected.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Day 9, Operation March

I spent most of the day traipsing over the farm and therefor only had time to read the daily allotment of Psalms and Proverbs. You would think that since I read only five chapters instead of 70+ I'd have a much better idea of the particulars of what I read. Fact is, I was about to fall asleep so all I remember is that I would love to throw a party like the one Wisdom throws at the beginning of Proverbs 9, and I really liked one of the Psalms and should go read it again. I'm not sure what I liked about it or which one it was.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Day 8, Operation March

  • Jeremiah
Today was the first day that I thought I might never convince myself to make it through the book. I don't think this had anything to do with the book I read, I think it was because I went to bed way to late last night and so I was less likely to be excited about doing anything.

Reading The Message version of the Bible makes a big difference. Sometimes it bothers me that the wording and phrases that are so familiar to me aren't in it but for the most part I've really appreciated it. To me it brings the entire Bible back to real life, reminding me that the Israelites weren't some alien race from another moon but rather people exactly like the ones I know.

It also reminds me that God is not Victorian, does not speak in Old English, and does not shy from making your skin crawl when necessary. It's amazing the difference it makes when the Bible is talking about sex for that word to actually be used. (Shocking!) If it weren't the Bible, I don't think my parent's would have let me read such a book.

Speaking of which, the difference between the plight of Israel and America today seems to be only that Americans are too advanced to bow to or name their idols. This is not judgment, only a statement of fact. Some people seem to think that America has reached new heights of sin, as though we have become even worse than God has ever seen. I think not.

As I read the thought keeps reoccurring, how much of my belief in God is really honest belief and how much is due to being taught about Him from a very young age? At first this thought scares me, "Am I falling away from God!?" Then I decide not to be silly, if God is God (and no matter the reason, I am very bad at doubting this) then He cannot be threatened by my questions.

Irrational as it may be, I love it that no matter how many questions surface about what I really believe, I am always asking God for the answers and expecting them from Him. It's like expecting light from the sun. As much as I try to be objective about it, it never works.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Day 7, Operation March

Today I finished off the minor prophets and Isaiah.
  • Isaiah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi
Today as I read my mind seemed to wander even more than usual. I wish that my mind never wandered. I wish that it would at least limit it's wandering to those times when nothing in particular needs paying attention to. Unfortunately, I am only a mortal.

I have accepted the fact that my mind is not perfect and that it does not reflect my heart. Thankfully, the Bible was not written for the perfect, the genius, or even the scholar. It was written for me.

Reading the prophets makes me wonder, exactly how is God unchangeable? How can I rely on such a moody person? Can God be desperate? Does He work so differently with nations than with individuals?

I feel like a friend of mine has suddenly appeared in a vastly different shape and I am forced to ask, "Who are You?" I know that I am not the first to consider splitting God into some sort of cosmic personality disorder: the "God of the Old Testament" and "The God of the New Testament".

Every now and then, it seems like I catch for a second that God's judgment, mercy, love, and holiness do fit together as a seamless whole. Like seeing something out of the corner of my eye but finding it gone before I can turn to focus on it, it never becomes entirely clear.

I've heard all sorts of answers to these thoughts, I've discussed them, probably taught a few of them. In this moment, these questions or worries are not enough to shake the foundation that God has laid in me. He is in control; He is good; I am His. I am content to continue puzzling over the other questions.

I don't want to settle for any answer that doesn't satisfy. For now, I'll stick to "I don't know." If there was such a day when I would finally know everything I would be gravely disappointed. I believe that receiving answers, looking for and looking forward to answers are our divine rights as humans. I expect to enjoy exercising them for eternity.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Operation March: Introduction

Edit: I wrote this in March after deciding I needed to blog about reading through the Bible in a month to keep me from going crazy along the way. I kept it up for a few days and then it somehow petered out. My apologies. I decided to go ahead and publish the few that I did write; I hope you enjoy them.

A friend of mine inspired me to try to read through the entire Bible in one month. This month. I was rather surprised that this would sound appealing to me but the more I thought about it the more it seemed to be the thing to do.

I have the time, I have been thinking about the Bible and it's role in life, Christianity, and my life in particular, and I believe I have finally matured enough to have a chance at accomplishing a deadline I set for myself.

This morning begins the seventh day and, as further proof that this is God inspired, I am still relatively excited about the idea. The few days before March started, when I was still deciding whether I wanted to go for this and risk making a fool of myself I was already thinking of strategies to help myself make it to the end.

I decided that I'd best get the boring and specially intimidating books out of the way as soon as possible, this mostly included the last three books of the Pentateuch. I would spread the Psalms and Proverbs out so that I'd be reading some of them each day. I'd try to read whole books at a time seeing as I am much more likely to keep reading if I have a book to finish.

I found out that there are 1189 chapters in the Bible and to finish reading all of them in 31 days means I'd have to average about 40 a day. I decided to use The Message as my version of choice because the more I hear of it the more respect I have for it. It was only a few days into it that I realized that it's also the only Bible I currently own that has words big enough to read for a month without going blind before the end.

Thus far I have read:
  • Genesis
  • Exodus
  • Leviticus
  • Deuteronomy
  • Joshua
  • Judges
  • Ezra
  • Nehemiah
  • Lamentations
  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Jonah
Reading through them at such a rate is maddening, relieving, and surprisingly enjoyable. It gives me enough to think about that my brain is near exploding but it keeps my thoughts moving so fast that I can't get stuck on one idea. So far, the biggest thing I have come away with is God's shear size. He is delightfully terrifying and totally beyond me. I am humbled in a very non-humiliating way.

As I read certain parts and ideas from my life surface regularly, I often think of a quote I recently heard on TV " . . . in mythical religious books such as the Bible." I have no very strong opinion about this quote. When I consider the absurdity of God, both as recorded in the Bible and as experienced in my own small life, it is no surprise to me that He has been relegated to myth. If you want to look wise, beware of God.

I think of my current plan to apply to Oxford University before the year is out. I believe that I have a good chance of being accepted, or at least that hurdle does not concern me because there is another that seems much bigger. How could it be payed for? As I read, I think that God is big enough, but also that no one can predict Him. I have always wanted adventure but I don't think I bargained for one as big as God.

As I read, my past motives often haunt me. They are little more sinister then Nearly Headless Nick but still a bit annoying. A few years ago, (maybe even months, who knows?) if I had undertaken this plan then it would have been full of conflicted thoughts.

"I would be so proud to read the Bible through in just a month, everyone would be impressed! Is it okay to read the Bible so quickly? It's probably very disrespectful to read the Bible so fast. If I do start, I know I'll never finish, I never finish anything."

Variations of these swim through my head but I have made it my habit to ignore them as much as possible. They are neither here, nor there, nothing more than passing thoughts. It is not my business to deal with any of them.

With fresh revelation of God's sheer size also comes some awkwardness in our relationship. I cannot, yet, ponder for long His vast terribleness and still come quite as boldly to His presence. If our relationship rested on me, this would probably be the time when I repented from elevating myself to the status of His child, fellow heir with Christ. Oddly enough though, I didn't elevate myself to such a position, He did. I am not likely to argue this or any point very animatedly with a God as huge as I suspect He might be.

As I watch God grow in my mind, the questions grow as well. This scares me. Until I realize that He is inviting me to grow with Him.