I heard an interesting statistic this week.
Less than 2% who claim to believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ, spend any time reading the Bible.
Don’t have time
It’s outdated, irrelevant
I used to be one of those and have recently been thinking about why and how that changed.
For many years the Bible was just another rule book to me, a list of things I should and shouldn’t do. It seemed dry and irrelevant to my daily concerns; a Girl Scout manual of hoops I needed to jump through to gain the next God-Is-Happy-With-Me–Again, badge.
Honestly, I was more worried about keeping the people around me happy, than a God I believed in but couldn’t see.
I memorized my Sunday School verses, learned the Bible stories, listened to countless sermons and did my duty devotional reading somewhat daily, but none of this was life giving. It was no different than brushing my teeth or making my bed every day; just something I did because I was supposed to.
I’d sat in church since toddler-hood but God was little more than the Big Meany in the sky.
I could see Him in my overactive imagination, a gigantic, glowing, being sitting on a golden throne with angels on both sides, a pen and a scroll in their hands.
God’s narrow, piercing eyes, always watching and searching for wrong doers, would zero in on me.
Suddenly God would exclaim, “There, see her?! That Diane girl? Look at what she’s doing now!”
He would look away from my activities here on earth to the angel on His right; the one who records sins for names starting with A through M.
Both angels, stretching their necks to look around the big fluffy cloud in their way, would follow the pointing finger of God; trying to see what I’m up to this time.
“ She’s doing that thing again!” God would purse his lips in disgust and shake His giant head.
“Write it down! Now!”
The angel, who was still trying to find me in a sea of humanity would snap to attention and start recording the date, time and my newest offense. He didn’t have to ask God my name. He’d written it so many times he always remembers.
In my mind, God was the giant Santa in the sky, making a list, checking it twice, finding out who’s naughty or nice.
And you better be ready when He comes to town ‘cause you’re in for it! No blessing for you only guilt, shame and punishment.
Since I was a small child, I’d heard and read that God loved me even sent His Son to die for me, but I couldn’t justify the God of the Old Testament with the Jesus of the New Testament.
God seemed psychotic, wiping whole people groups off the planet one minute and dying on a cross for me the next.
I didn’t get it.
Through a series of life circumstances that aligned like the planets, I came to a place where all the Christian cliches and doctrines I had memorized didn’t give me the answers I was looking for anymore.
I wanted more, needed more than my shallow beliefs. I knew about God but I was miserable. What I desperately wanted was for Him to be my soul mate. I had to know if He really loved ME and I could love Him back.
If He was the God of love that Jesus portrayed, why did I feel so unworthy? Why did I feel like God didn’t like me?
We each have filters that are the sum total of our experiences, thought process, values and beliefs which influence the way we view God. All my life, I had believed only what I’d been told, but hadn’t diligently searched it out for myself.
I came to the realization that my concept of God might be faulty and I didn’t know Him at all. So I began to ask Him to show Himself to me, if He truly was my Heavenly Father, to reveal the greatness of His love.
When I opened the Bible, I prayed that I would not read anything into or pull anything out of it that wasn’t truly there. I asked God to let me see exactly what He wanted me to see in its pages.
The transformation was slow but amazing, and gradually I fell in love with the God who loves me, the God in my Bible.
He began to strip away all the things I thought I knew and replace them with a simple trust in who He is.
My filters and assessment of God never changed who He truly is; they only distorted the way I had perceived Him. I began to see everything differently.
Religion told me I had to do more, be more, be better. God just tells me He loves me and calls me into His love.
God’s Word is no longer a rule book but a love letter and God isn’t a mean, score keeping, dictator but my friend and merciful, caring Father. Now, I want nothing more than to make Him happy, not out of fear or obligation but because of love.
From beginning to end, the Bible is God’s love story for humanity. It explains how He created us for friendship but also created us with choice. While I am busy choosing everything else, God mercifully and constantly calls me back to his heart, because with Him is where I belong.
My Bible is that special letter God wrote to me; like one a lover would send and I keep in a treasured place, unfolding gently so as not to tear the worn, yellowed creases.
I read it again and again and am filled with joy in discovering He loves me and thinks I’m beautiful. I am adored, and cherished by the God of the Universe and His heart breaks whenever my own wanders far and He can’t be near me.
What girl doesn’t love a good love story?
And how amazing to be the main character in the best one of all.
I think I’ll stop writing now. I need to read my love letter again, today.
He’s Everything to Me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ywzlq2AiAuM