When I undertook this last year, it was because I knew my daily reading had slacked off, and I knew I wanted to spend more time with Him. As I sat in a service at my church's association meetings and listened to the conversation on how we should set aside time for Him, the conviction settled in that this was something I could and should do. So I went home, got out my Bible, and edited the schedule in the back of it to begin in July rather than January.
I've read all the way through my Bible several times before, but it's pretty amazing to realize how much of it I'd totally forgotten. Or just never registered perhaps. I've learned a lot. About history, about God, about faith. I can't hope to put it all in one blog post, but I want to dwell on some of those lessons, if only a few right now.
God is DeliberateHe doesn't direct us randomly. He doesn't say "Yeah, do whatever. I'll make it work." He has a very particular plan, and when you don't obey it, then you can't expect His blessing. We might not always understand why says "do this" one day and "don't do this" same thing the next day. But there's a reason. And we need to seek Him first, not after we've already made our decisions.
Details MatterThat's the thing I took most from all the descriptions of the ark (Noah's), the ark (of the Covenant), and the temple. Each detail was given with precision. Each detail was carried out with precision. Each detail was worth recording with precision. We as readers millennia removed might find some of those details boring. But they matter. Every detail of our lives matter. And we, as living temples of the Lord in this day of the Spirit, need to remember that. If God was so particular about the articles brought into the temple and how each was to be used, don't you think it matters what we fill our hearts and minds with?
Obedience is a Sign of Our HeartsSometimes we might be confused by why Cain's offering was refused. Or why the sons of Aaron were struck dead for getting a few details wrong in the sacrifice. Why touching the Ark of the Covenant to steady it killed a guy. But it's like this--God tells us very particularly what to do and what not to do. If we disobey knowingly, it means we think our way is better than God's way. Talk about pride! I've gotten over thinking God was cruel to do what he said he's do--I'm more amazed that it doesn't happen more often.
God Cares About our Little ThingsLike the ax head, for which He rewrote the laws of physics. The missing coin of the woman at the well. The short man who just wants to see over the heads of the crowd. He cares. He meets those needs. Sometimes in simple ways--"Come down, Zachias, I will dine with you today."--and sometimes in miraculous ones. But no matter how, He answers.
God Is EverywhereWe learn about His omnipresence as kids, right? God can be everywhere in the universe at once. Sure. But what really matters is that He's where we are. In exile in Babylon. In the depths of our sorrow. In the bottom of a lion-filled pit. In a fiery furnace. In a depleted storeroom. In a drought-choked field. In a flooded valley. God is there, in whatever problem we're facing. He's there, in the shouts of victory. He's there, waiting for us to reach out, to call, to cry for Him. He's there, waiting to tell us when and how and where to move.
God Knows Us by NameMaybe that sounds silly. But this read-through also reminded me of the power in names. Exactly twice in the Bible we hear that God told His true name to someone. First an angle who was given leave to slaughter the disobedient in the camps of Israel, and a few chapters later, to Moses. His name gave those two creatures power to do what no one else in history has done. The name of Jesus will make knees bow in all the universe. The names He gives to his servants signify their hearts and their purpose. And He knows us by name. Not just the name our parents chose for us, but the name that encapsulates all we are. All we can be. All we will ever do. He knows that name. He whispers it to us when we need it most. He calls us Rock when we feel pretty tempestuous. He calls us Deliverer when we feel like a coward who has run away. He calls us Wise Teacher when we feel like an outcast in a strange land.
Sometimes I wonder what my true name is...or where He's leading me next...or if the small details of my life are pleasing to Him. Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever conquer my weaknesses...or learn to fully, truly, always obey. Sometimes I wonder if I can ever be what I know I should be.
But you know, reading through those old stories...I learn anew that whatever I am, if I lay it at the feet of God, if I cling to the hand of the Savior, then it's enough. Whatever I have, it's enough--so long as I give it back to Him. Not just my extra, but my best. All for Him...because He is all to us.