Yesterday I looked back at one of the earliest posts on this site. It describes a habit I formed back then and still practice now when I read the Bible. I added some current thoughts, extended the section that invites reflection, and spruced up the design a bit. I offer it again to anyone who may find it helpful.
CHRISTIANS MUST ALWAYS NOURISH in their hearts the fullness of joy. Try to do that, sisters and brothers. I have tried it many times, and in the most bitter situations, when slander and persecution are at their worst, I have united myself intimately with Christ as my friend, and I have tasted a sweetness that all the joys of earth cannot give. It is the joy of God’s intimacy, the profoundest joy the heart can experience, even when people don’t understand you.
Romero, Oscar. The Scandal of Redemption (Plough Spiritual Guides: Backpack Classics) (p. 35). Plough Publishing House. Kindle Edition.
6 In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, 7 so that the genuineness of your faith— being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire— may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:6-9
Harper Bibles. NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (Kindle Locations 87282-87287). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
For context, look at the parable of the sower and it’s explanation in Luke 8:4-15.
I say this prayer pretty much every time I read the Bible. Why, especially now that I seem to be able to recite it without even thinking about it? What’s the point?
This prayer, even when I’m in a hurry and hardly think about it, expresses my true desire. This is what I want the reading of scripture to do to me, within me, and through me…even when I’m hurried or distracted or skeptical or depressed. No matter what is going on in me, I want God’s word to have this effect, long-term, in my life.
What is your experience with reading scripture?
If you find it challenging, what sorts of things would help you?
Though I have specifically mentioned scripture, I believe God’s word can be sown in our lives at any moment of any day through the prompting and counsel of the Holy Spirit: how open are we to receiving God’s word in that form and letting it root in our lives and bear fruit?
I see a clear parallel between the thorns in the Luke passage and the ashes in the quote from Thomas Merton in the last post. I think these thorns and ashes, the distractions and anxieties of my life, are what hold me back, choke out the fire of God’s Spirit in me. What is your experience like?
Again, I encourage you to write down your thoughts. Why? It makes space for you to think them, decide if you believe them or not, revise them, and remember them later.