After seminary, which I completed in 2015, I didn’t want to look at another book. I especially didn’t want to look at a book that someone told me I had to read. It didn’t matter if it was one that someone thought I would enjoy or if it was one that I was supposed to read for a continuing education class. I just didn’t have the desire to do it. It was a shame really. I learned how to read in kindergarten and loved it. My love of reading stayed with me my whole life until I went back for my second graduate degree. It wasn’t unusual for me to send my kids outside to play on a Saturday so I could lay on the couch with a good book and forget about the housework for a while. If I needed an escape from the pressures of work and family life, it was a bubble bath, a book, and a locked bathroom door. I lost all of that after seminary. It wasn’t that the books I had to read for my classes were boring. In fact most of them were very interesting. Some of them were even easy and fun reads. It was just that there were so many of them – up to fifteen books for one ten week course and three or four classes every ten week quarter for three years. I was burnt out after all of that. It took me a long time to recover.
That said, I have recently rediscovered my love for the written word thanks in a large part to the Post Public Library. I have been doing a lot of reading lately. Of course a lot of it has been for work. Preparing a sermon every week means reading is a necessity. I had to do it even when I didn’t want to. But quite a bit of what I have done lately is for pleasure. Last week, at the suggestion of our sweet librarian, I discovered a new favorite author by the name of Karen Kingsbury. The book I read, A Distant Shore, had a little bit of everything that I like. It was a little bit of spy thriller, a little bit of romance, a little bit of life story, a little bit of Scripture, and a whole lot of good old-fashioned Christian values. Thankfully, I also discovered that the library has several of her novels that will keep me in a good read for many weeks to come.
There is a small sign on the door of the library that says something like, “Every child loves to read. If they don’t they haven’t found the right books yet.” I think this is true for most of us. Granted there are some people who find reading difficult, but for the majority, I think if we read enough we will find a genre or an author, or perhaps a few of each, that we really like for whatever reason. I think this is true about Scripture as well. The book we call The Holy Bible is more than just a book. In reality it is a whole library. There are 66 books in this particular library. Among those 66 books, I think we will all find at least one genre and one author that we really like. Yet we have to read many of the books and authors to find out which ones those are.
The strange thing about any library, though, and particularly the Bible library, is that you will find (or at least I have) that your literary tastes will change from time to time. I think it depends a lot on what season you are in in life, what is going on in the world around you, and what you are trying to figure out for yourself at the time. I am pretty sure I have said before that I am in the process of reading through the Bible from cover to cover, not in the order it is compiled, but from cover to cover nonetheless. It is not my first time and it won’t be my last. The books and authors that I am finding most interesting this time around are not the ones that spoke to me previously. I am sure they are not the ones that will be of interest the next time around. Sure I will always have a couple that are my favorites, like the Christmas story in the Gospel of Luke and the creation stories in Genesis, among others. However, for now I am getting so much out of other books. I just finished reading the books of 1 and 2 Kings. Previously I have found them boring and hard to read, but this time I have found them fascinating as I rediscovered Elijah’s encounter with God and the history of God’s people through the kings of Israel and Judah.
I think what I am trying to say with all of this is 1) rediscover reading, 2) (the obvious) we need to be reading and rereading the Scriptures because God will have a message that we need to hear; sometimes it will seem like God is stepping on our toes and sometimes it will be a pleasant reminder of God’s love for us, 3) don’t give up because you find one book, or even a few chapters, boring or hard to read; keep at it until you find the book or author that you can relate too, then keep coming back for more, and 4) once you have finished that author, go back and read the Bible again; discover or rediscover another book, another author, and another message from God. I think when you do, you will be surprised at how enjoyable it is to read the Bible, how relevant Scripture is for today, and how much your relationship with Jesus Christ is strengthened when you spend time with God’s word.
And that, Y’all, is all I have to say today!