Here's what I've learn't.
The other week I bought a brand new bible, my first in over seven years. And I thought to myself, "What better way to break in my shiny new Bible than a reading challenge?!"
A 40 Day Bible Reading Challenge!!
To complete this challenge in the allotted time, I would be reading - on average - 35 chapters a day for the full 40 days. Yeah, sure! I can totally do that. That's only two and a half hours of reading a day, I can find that time...
For the first three days I was completely on top of it. Got through only half the reading the fourth day, nothing the fifth day, and spent the next three days catching up, only to realise once I'd thought I'd caught up that I still had one more day to read. I read the entirety of Numbers in one day in a last ditch effort to keep my time... SPOILER ALERT! Yep... It didn't work out.
But, let me tell you, I have SERIOUSLY learn't some things!
Here's what I've learn't:
God is an honouring God
Genesis is a book full of God using a fallen humanity to bring about His love on the earth. God's unyielding love towards us is shown by His covenant and promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Lord is a relentlessly honouring God who continues to bring about His promises in our lives, even when we laugh in His face. (Gen 18:10-15)
There is always a Promised Land
Just like Yahweh's relationship with Israel - where He brought them out of Egypt in which they were slaves to Pharaoh - God refuses to leave His people in slavery. He hates seeing His beloved children enslaved - to sin, addiction, mental or physical illness, in toxic relationships, or trying to please people - anything which restricts the freedom He bought for His Beloved Bride on Calvary. Exodus reveals how God purses His people and releases them from slavery with His unfailing love. Scripture says He is the same "yesterday, today and tomorrow" (Heb 13:8) which means He is still in the business of setting captives free! This is wonderful news!
Above all, He seeks intimacy
Something was lost in the Garden when humanity fell. An intimacy with God that we both long to get back to. Genesis talks about God walking through the Garden in the cool of the day (Gen 3:8), calling for His Beloved. After the Fall, He could no longer do this. However, whilst reading through Leviticus, I found this verse "I will look favourably upon you... and I will fulfil my covenant with you... I will walk among you; I will be your God, and you will be My people." (Lev 26:9-12). There is a sense in which The Lord is longing, aching to walk among His people again, to return to the intimate relationship of Eden. When I found this, I just broke. He is so loving, pursing us relentlessly, aching to restore the relationship between us. How can you not respond this this incredible measure of love?!
He is patient
In setting this 40 day challenge, all I wanted was to know God more. I wanted to read through His history and learn His character. And I can tell you that not only have I read and seen His character, I have felt it too. When it comes to my relationship with the Father, I hold myself to extremely high expectations, running around like Martha when all He is calling me to do it to sit at His feet like Mary (Luke 10:38-42). In not keeping up with the reading challenge, the response I received from Jesus wasn't one of disappointment, but of overwhelming... understanding, actually. He is so loving that He completely understands all that is going on in my life, but also my heart. My heart cries out to know Him more - Oh, Lord, I want to know you so much more! - and so, just as He was in Genesis, He honours me. He honours my heart cry so much that reveals His character to me through His feelings towards me in the midst of my self-imposed "failure". Relentlessly loving, revealing to me the very nature I've been reading about.
He is a really good God. And even as I write those words I know that the English language is so limiting to the depth of His goodness that they fail to even scratch the surface of capturing its Truth. But I will keep saying it - He is so freaking good! - knowing that one day, I will feel the full reality of those words.