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Living in the Book

Let me tell you about a way of reading the Bible that I have found to be fun and fascinating. There are many different Bible reading plans that one can pursue, but I don’t think I have come across this one. It simply is this: I try to live in the book that I am reading. I have lived in the book of Proverbs, Psalms, Nehemiah, Ecclesiastes, as well as in the NT books of James, Philippians, Corinthians, and many others.

What do I mean by this, and what does it look like? I try to give myself to that book as though I have entered into the era in which it was written. I try to marinate in the story. I try to carry the material of that book in my head throughout the day. I don’t read the book just so I can highlight a particular verse, rather I try to hold the book in its entirety in my mind. What is this book about? Why was it written? How might I engage the book, not just to pick out certain verses to highlight, but to be a part of the material itself? I stay in the book for weeks or months; and what I have found over time is that the Bible becomes so much more than proof texts or inspirational verses. The Bible becomes less utilitarian and more of a living, breathing, message to me. I am living in the book as though it were written to me.

Luke does this in his introduction to the book of Acts. He writes to Theophilus to bring him into an awareness of the events that had happened that resulted in the Church coming into existence. Theophilus becomes a part of the book.

I read a particular book over and over for several months. I read it in different translations. I do a little research to learn some backdrop to the book – a Google search will yield enough information to help you out. The book begins to live with me and live in me. I meditate on sections of it. I ask questions like, “What is he saying here?” “Why is he saying it?” I will read the book not just from front to back but from back to front. Reversing the order of reading causes me to see phrases differently. Sometimes I will just linger on a particular word in the book. Sometimes the word is just a common word. For example: in Philippians it says, ‘Convinced of this…’ I will carry the word ‘convinced’ in my mind. Convinced of what? As my day unfolds, I will ask, “Am I convinced of what I said or heard?” “What am I convinced of?” All of these little pieces pull me into the book in a way that causes me to ask more questions, to stew on the questions and possible answers, and open my Bible in the middle of the day, because I want to see how a sentence or paragraph is phrased.

The simplicity of this is that anyone can do it. You do not have to be a Bible scholar. You aren’t reading the book just to figure out what you are supposed to do or what you are supposed to believe. Rather, you are reading it to make you a part of it. You are letting yourself be pulled into the book itself.

So I encourage you to give it a try. Pick a book – any book – and stay with it for a month. Work the book over. Mark the pages up, jot down phrases. The exercise is not a heavy one. As I said, I have found it to be fascinating and fun. The book becomes alive in ways that I had not anticipated.

Bible reading should be a life-long practice. That means we have many years to pour over it. Though I have read the Bible through many times, I don’t want it to become so familiar to me that I lose my sense of wonder over it. Hebrews tells us the Word of God is living and active. I have found this practice makes the Word of God come ever more alive to me. I pray you may experience the same thing.

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