This is a guest post from Genevieve, Bible in 90 Days graduate and mentor for group #16.
I was 16 years old, I wore my black trench coat everywhere and had a butch haircut. I was mad at everybody – including myself. It takes a lot to melt a teenager, but the note inside the black leatherbound King James Bible my Papa gave me for my birthday did the trick. It’s hard to keep your cool when you read that your father prays for you every day. As with all books, I wasn’t content until I’d read it through, and I did so, front to back, like a novel. I rationalized that the word count was lower than Les Miserables, Victor Hugo’s epic that I’d finished the month before.
I met kings and slaves, desperate queens and humble widows, prophets, visions, and miracles. The red letters jumped off the black pages. The whole book invited me in like a melancholy medieval legend. Pretty soon I carried it everywhere, pages bent, coffee stained cover, and passages underlined on every page. It perfected my Goth outfit – a Holy book, a life’s quest, and the perfect shade of black to blend into my trench coat.
Since then, I went through a collapse of my faith in college and the slow rebuilding accomplished through the desperation in my heart as I lived a godless life. Sin fueled my desire to understand and solve my brokenness, and I learned anew that God’s Word is indeed living, that it flows in through your eyes and fills you up to overflowing. Joy unspeakable in a few paragraphs. After college, I became a work-a-holic night nurse, and a new Bible – don’t tell on me, it was an NIV – green and dogeared to the hospital every night to pore over by the small light next to the computer in an intensive care unit. From the cornerstone of Christ planted in my soul at age 5, Christ began to build, first the scaffolding and finally walls, then windows, a whole house built in my soul, a temple for the God I was slowly coming to love.
Still, it wasn’t until cancer caught me off guard at 29 that my Bible reading became consistent. I came to the pages starving and left still with an ache in my stomach. There was never enough Word to feed my soul through the weary days of researching, making treatment decisions and finally treatment.
I still have cancer, but it’s not as ravenous as it was at first. I noticed an ebb in my reading last year, and curiously searched #B90Days on Twitter to find out what all the buzz was about. Soon I was at Mom’s Toolbox, signing up. And then the reading, oh, the reading. It was intense, especially through the books of the law and the genealogies. I admit I got through it giggling, envisioning Monte Python scenes where they walk through the ancient cobblestone streets, first asking, “Bring out your dead! Bring out your dead!” and then, to warn others of their dangerous cargo, “Unclean! Unclean!”
I admit skimming some days through the most difficult sections, but for the most part I read every word. Sometimes ahead and sometimes behind, I kept that goal fixed in my mind, that date when my friends on the Twitter and the comment boards would be finishing with me. I claimed a verse for this time, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (II Timothy 4:7-8)
This is my battle cry for you, whether you’re ahead or behind. This is so worth it. You might establish a daily reading schedule you’ve never stuck to in the past.
God will speak to you through His Word, wherever you are in your journey, with whatever system (or lack thereof) you read it. In Isaiah 55:11, the prophet says of God’s Word, “it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” You might have Scripture ready on your tongue the next time a friend consults you with their crisis, their sorrow, their shame. You might gain confidence that you can read the Bible yourself without priest, pastor, or interpreter. You might find that different versions are worth the time. You might memorize a verse or two. This might be the beginning of a lifelong love for God’s Word. He is pursuing you through each sentence, and begging you to live this life – every minute of it – basking in the peace and beauty and blessing of His love.