It’s 2000-something and I’m at my first ever women’s retreat. We’re playing fellowship BINGO where we run around the room looking for people that fit the description for each letter. Square B1-find someone that speaks Spanish…I2-find someone that has four kids…well that’s easy at this church…N3-find someone that has read the entire Bible. I chuckle to myself all the while thinking that can’t be real (may I remind the reader that I was a new believer at the time). Sure enough, I easily found a woman who fit the square! Much to my chagrin, I did not win BINGO that day, but I certainly won a bigger prize.
I confess at this point that I am an extremely competitive person by nature. God’s gift, if you will. So while I would love to tell you that my heart grew three sizes that day, and I was convicted by the Holy Spirit to be deep in God’s word, the truth is a little less pretty. I wanted to be as “good” at the Bible as this woman was.
After many failed attempts, I finally finished the Bible cover to cover. Genesis to Revelation. Whew! Done! But not really done. Actually, never done. Reading the whole Bible didn’t make me “good”. It did so much more. It made me see God as the creator of the heavens and the earth, it made me see Jesus as the Savior of the world, and it made me see myself as a sinner saved by grace.
Fast forward ten plus years where I find myself smack in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. It’s everywhere. I turn on the TV and it’s there. I listen to the radio and it’s there. I go out with friends and it’s there. The pandemic has permeated everything and as much as I want to run away from it or pretend there is a silver lining, I can’t deny the pandemic has changed my life.
Each morning I wake up and I’m hopeful it’s disappeared when the ugly reality quickly hits. The gym will not be mobbed like it used to be, school will be on the verge of closure, the shelves at the grocery store will be sparse and at least one of my friends or family is likely to be sick, which sends me into a downward spiral of anxiety and fear in a matter of seconds.
But God still reigns and that is my hope. I know God reigns because I’ve read it all over His book. When all of the world turned from God, the Lord saved Noah and his sons instead of destroying us all (Gen 6). Abraham was in fear for his life so he allowed his wife to be captured by the reigning pharaoh, not once but TWICE, and God returned her to him (Gen 12:10-20, Gen 20). God saved the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and brought them to the promised land (Exodus). Even when His people did what was right in their own minds, He heard their cries and sent His judges to set things straight (Judges). When Judah was conquered by the Babylonians and Daniel was taken into Babylon to serve under non-believing kings, God always comforted him and protected him, even from the mouth of a lion (Daniel 1-6).
And of course, we can never forget that God sent Jesus to die on a cross, be buried three days, and be resurrected so that those of us who believe in Him might have eternal life.
This is why I read the Bible, God’s word, every day. Not to be smarter but to have hope. This is what gives me the strength to have joy amidst my suffering. So I’m not just the lucky square on someone’s BINGO board but I am a deeply-loved woman of God who can lean on Christ in my good times and bad. In his book to the Romans, Paul says in 15:4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have HOPE. (NIV, emphasis mine)
If you are interested in reading the whole Bible, I suggest a chronological reading plan. My favorite is oneyearbibleonline.com.