New Bible reading
I don't know how you do it. I don't even know if you do it. But if you do it, you need to discern whether, for you, routine is a friend or an enemy, or a little bit of both. I'm talking, of course, about Bible reading.
Bible reading has fallen on hard times in America, and in American churches. Awash though we are in Bibles, and claim though we do to be Christians (at least on overwhelming majority of us), we are ignorant of the Bible.
It's time for we who know Christ to recover, or begin, the habit of encountering God through the scriptures, because it's by absorbing God's glory and responding to God's revelation that we're transformed, and thus able to increasingly fulfill the purpose for which we were created. Our purpose, of course, is to make the invisible God visible, by manifesting increasing doses of mercy, truth telling, humility, forgiveness, courage, justice, beauty and more in our world. God will express these things uniquely through each of us, but the means by which He will shape us is the same. We're shaped in response to revelation. Thus, if I'm ignoring God's revelation, I'm cutting myself off from the means of transformation. What's more, I'm choosing instead to be shaped by other forces, since the reality is that none of us are autonomous agents shaping ourselves.
For me, I need both routine in variety. I need routine in setting a time of day to receive from God through the Bible. For me this is morning, before the day is swallowed by activity. I can manage to squeeze other things into my life in the margins - exercise, eating, reading, even blogging. But if I miss the appointed time for reading, it's rare that I catch it later in the day. So I try to make it an appointment.
But I need variety in how I digest the Bible. I've been in a period of doing daily readings out of the Celtic Daily Prayer book, a marvelous little work that exposes one to Old and New testaments around a theme each day. But I'm missing the continuity of a larger story, and feeling the need to fortify myself in preparation for some summer teaching, so for the next little while, I'll be reading through I and II Kings, and Romans.
This morning, in I Kings 1, I was struck by the discord among God's children over who would be David's successor to the throne. God's people fighting over positions of power? You've never heard of that, have you? This story reminds me of how easily our own needs for security, or meaning, or power, or intimacy, or ________ (fill in the blank with your own story) can create in us a demanding posture, rather than a submissive one. "I will be king, God's will be dammed!" was the attitude of Adonijah.
Only he wouldn't say it that way, which is too bad, because had he done so it would have been much more honest, and easier to see the deception. Instead he hired priests to offer sacrifices, so as to 'bless and sanctify' his rebellion. It's always this mixture of our lust with God words, worship songs, offerings, and prayers that create the problem. The mixture confuses us. And the reason for this is because we can't really know the heart of Adonijah, at least not on the surface of things. He appears to be following God. So do many cult leaders. He offers 'killer' worship services (with all the sacrfices being offered, this is intended to be a pun). But beneath it all is rebellion born from insecurity.
I'm reminded this morning to open my hands, to quit grasping or clinging to power, authority, position, vocation, geography, or any other thing. It's much simpler to rest and let God run the show. But to do so, I need to trust that God will take care of me, a lesson I learn well by, of all things, reading the Bible regularly.