In 2015, I read the Bible in smaller bits, to soak in what was being said that day to me. I still turn to several books a day, but instead of a chapter or two, I would read the section. I know a lot of the formulas for reading the Bible in a year. Some ambitious plans have it read in ninety days. I never looked at that. If you read five Psalms a day, you can read through that book in a month. Except Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible and it is hard on that day to read four more. Proverbs' thirty one chapters can give you wisdom every day of the month.
I started, too, reading a book in a month. Just read it over and over. Philippians' four chapters complement the month of Thanksgiving for me. In February, I read Song of Solomon and 1 and 2 Timothy, for the romance of one and the instruction of an older man to a younger pupil to remind me of my dad in the month he died. I carried this over to a lot of books, I feel led to read the upcoming month.
I ponder over the section I'm reading. I started reading the Bible when I first started reading. I had a small New Testament that belonged to my Grandpa Evans that became the first actual scripture. Before that I looked at the pictures of the Bible Stories books on the book shelf. Those pictures painted vividly, but maybe not always accurately. Somewhat like the flannel graph in Sunday school, release time and Good News club.
I earned a Revised Standard Version in third grade, the red letter deluxe model, that served me many years. The box it came in, I covered with red flannel and collected the pictures from the Good News Club teacher so I could tell the stories. I remember though some of the shock as I read the Bible on my own. Mostly about the shepherd boy, David, who killed the mighty Goliath. As an old man, in 1 Kings chapter one, he had a young woman sleep with him to keep him warm. I hadn't even read or remember hearing about 2 Samuel and Bathsheba.
I really don't know how many times I have read the Bible through. I try to read it every day, although some mornings, the routine is broken. I believe that is OK. The last thing I want is routine or rut. One reason, I have been altering the my approach.
November first, I am reading my Bible. One passage is Matthew 14, where Jesus feeds the five thousand men, plus women and children. I have heard this taught, since I was a child, a pre-reader. I have heard multitude sermons on this. I have heard the liberal view that because the little boy shared his lunch, the others followed his example in sharing and that's how they all were fed. Except the Bible in all four gospels gives no indication of that. It was a miracle, folks, plain and simple. I have also heard of this happening on mission fields, sandwiches keep appearing to feed those who come. I also have seen it happen with resources and finances. I have taught it, myself, with Pepperidge Farms goldfish flowing like there is no end.
This day, though, I prayed, "There's something more today. What do I need to learn today, Jesus?"
And the answer blew in on me. The little bit of love, the little bit of peace and the little bit of forgiveness in my heart, I will lift up, as the little boy lifted up his basket of five loaves and two fishes. I give what feeble amount I have and Jesus will multiply it. My heart will fill to overflowing if I offer my little bit. I will see miracles, if I do the first part of forgiving and being grateful.
The feeling of 'Hope' being my word for 2016 germinated from this thought and in my month of gratitude. 'Hope' in a fresh form followed me. I can't shake it (not that I want to). I should say, it feels it can't be shaken and we know how badly January started for me.
My hope springs from the Holy Spirit whispering, "One more time." I can forgive, one more time. I can believe, one more time. I can love, one more time. And my writing, the spiritual practice, I will continue, one more time.