Sunday, April 09, 2006
A box of letters
In our garage is a large box containing things from my high school and college days. Suzy and I stored our high school yearbooks in there, along with some old pictures, certificates, and such. A big scrapbook full of newspaper clippings and mementos from my high school football years is in there too. There's even a pillow that Suzy gave me in college, which has a blown-up picture of the two of us on it - me wearing shorts that I cut out of jeans and didn't get the lengths of the legs the same, so I look really stupid. I also have a lot of hair.
Anyway, the most valuable thing in this box is a shoebox full of letters. They are letters Suzy & I wrote each other in our college days (1972-'76) when we were away from each other during summers and holidays. They are smokin' with passion! In the box are also a few cassette tapes, on which we recorded our voices and mailed them to each other so we could "talk" to each other. From time to time, we'll open up this shoebox and listen to the tapes and read over the letters again. They remind us how in those days we were, in the words of Solomon, "sick with love" (Song of Songs 2:5). If you read these letters they would make you sick too!
I think we should look at the Bible the same way I look at this shoebox full of letters and cassette tapes...as an unfolding love story, a revelation of God's passionate pursuit of His people. Of course the Bible is a book of truth, teaching us how to think, how to live, and what to believe. But to view the Bible only that way would be tragic. It would be like reading through my box of letters only to study the dating habits of two young people named Mike & Suzy. Boring.
I mentioned in my last post that I'm reading Donald Miller's book, Searching for God Knows What. Miller has a lot to say about how to read the Scriptures. In Chapter 4 ("Free Verse") he talks about the Bible being "stories of imperfect humans having relations with a perfect God." In Chapter 5 ("Naked") he does I think a great job reading between the lines in Genesis 1-3. Not sure I agree with all his conclusions, but it makes for inspiring reading.
I tend to read the Bible with the goal of getting through it in a year. Nothing wrong with that. Problem is, it's easy to let the task overshadow the thrill of hearing God speak words of devotion and affection into my heart...which might mean I just read one paragraph and stay there for a long while, just letting it sink in. Like this passage from Micah:
"Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion of us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea." (Micah 7:18-19, NIV)
Wow, now that's worth reading over, and over, and over again.