Each year I set out to read through the entire Bible in a year. I find that the more I immerse myself in the entire narrative of scripture, the more and more I see the inter workings of God’s larger story of redemption all the way through the Bible from beginning to end. And I have found that both scripture, and the God of whom scripture speaks, takes on new beauty when I step back and see the big picture rather than piecemealing and proof-texting my way through.
Recently, while trying to keep up with my daily reading, I found myself reading scripture in smaller chunks through out my day rather than in one big chunk at the beginning of my day. In doing this I have had these little “ah ha” moments as I read. They haven’t been anything earth shattering or life changing, and nothing extremely profound. But for me, they’ve been moments of significance. Almost as though I’m reading scripture for the first time.
In these past few weeks, what I’ve noticed is that when I “work at” reading through the Bible in a year, I can get caught in a pattern of simply trying to “get through” scripture rather than creating space in my life for God to speak to me through scripture. When I slip into the former I find my daily reading becomes something I check off my to do list. My hope for this blog project is that it will force me to slow down as I read and savor God’s word like a glass of fine wine rather than throwing it back like a glass of water after a long run.
Each week I plan to share one thing that I’ve gleaned from God’s word that week. Some weeks it may be an insight or an observation. Some weeks it may be a question with which I have wrestled. Other weeks (like this one) it may be more of a personal reflection.
So to get things going, let’s start with a reflection from my recent reading in 1 Samuel.
In 1 Samuel 13 the Israelite army is camped on the west side of the Jordan river in a town called Gilgal. The Philistine army has gathered to wage war against the Israelites and the Philistines have the Israelites right where they want them. Samuel, the leading prophet and judge of Israel, told Saul, the king of Israel, to wait seven days for his arrival to offer sacrifices to the Lord before they attack the Philistines.
Day seven rolls around and there is no sign of Samuel. So what does Saul do? He offers the sacrifices himself.
8 Saul waited there seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didn’t come. Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away. 9 So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself.
And of course, right after he finishes the sacrifices who should show up? Samuel. Samuel then tells Saul that because of his lack of trust and disobedience, the kingdom will be taken from his hands and given to someone else.
As I was reading this story I found myself looking in a mirror. And what I was seeing was Saul. That’s right impatient and insecure Saul. As I was reading God pulled back the veil on my own heart and showed me that I have the tendency to think…
“We are running out of time. We have to act now.”
“If I were leading this crew we would sure get things done.”
“I’m not sure God understands the urgency of this situation.”
So often I’m bent on productivity, efficiency and results. And because of that, instead of trusting God with my circumstances and situations, I take matters into my own hand. I take on the mentality that I’m the one in control and in charge. This even happens when it comes to reading scripture. Often I’m bent on “getting through” scripture so that I can master scripture. But what I have been left with lately is the question, how would my life be different if scripture mastered me?
This story of Saul reminds me of my tendency to be like Saul, to take matters into my own hands and to be my own master rather than submitting myself to God even when it doesn’t make sense.
Take a minute and read 1 Samuel 13:1-14, what strikes you about that story?