The Holy Bible: After one year

For this installment of Faithful Fridays, I happily fangirl over the road to reading the entire Bible for the first time, and how I am looking forward to doing it all over again!

Enclosed in its pages are action and drama to sell Hollywood out!
That, or you just burst into tears because of convictions unique to you.
Photo by Colin Carey

The only other time I can say that I have “read” the Bible in full was through a children’s Bible picture book which belonged to my Dad when he was a kid. I was nine years old. In there, the publishers took the stories individually and condensed them in easy-to-read narratives. I cannot forget the beautiful engraved drawings. I suppose that attempt does not really count – but at least it left me with a general idea of what the Bible is about: awesome stories 😀 !

Fast forward to 1999, I tried reading the real Bible (one of the Catholic versions). I tried following using the Our Daily Bread guide in the devotionals. I then met a stumbling block that young (literally and figuratively) believers often encounter: the books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

Christian brothers and sisters – you know what I am talking about.

I did not last beyond Numbers 3, and I gradually petered out of my devotionals. The Bible was forgotten and stashed behind double rows of French-translated manga and pocket novels, just as I faded out of my Catholic faith and decided to settle on something that teetered between Universalism and Agnosticism.

In 2014, I was still new in my Christian faith, and reading through the entire Bible was a daunting idea. After several messages in church where the Pastors encouraged us to read our Bible every day, and likened it to “God’s love letter to His children,” my curiosity got the best of me.

I had a thick volume of the King James Version under my pillow (fittingly, my first “Seed gift”), and I decided to do the “close my eyes and pick a random verse” thing. Lo and behold, I fell upon the first page of The Song of Solomon (aka Song of Songs).

Christian brothers and sisters – you know what I am talking about.

My first thought was, Oohh myyy~! (yes, in George Takei’s voice), followed by, There is a book like this in the Bible? Of all places?! … and no, that book is not included in the children’s Bible I read.

I told my friend Roanne about my experience and she just laughed. “That’s what you get for picking the middle!” she said. But beyond the scandal I experienced, I am quite convinced that the serendipitous reading The Song of Solomon unlocked for me the reality of God’s living word. Knowing my wicked, miserable past, The Song of Solomon bridged what I believed to be love and lead me to the need to know how God defines love — how He is love.

In 2015, armed with insatiable curiosity and gifted with conviction, I started a new Bible reading plan – again, with the suggested outline by Our Daily Bread; but the app became buggy after a few updates, and so I jumped over to the Through the Bible in a Year reading plan in the ESV Bible app for iOS (and Android).

This time, I told myself, I will do this. I will finish this. If there is anything I will finish in this stage in my life, it is this.

I still struggled in the L-N-D triad. I remember reading them irreverently while queued at the grocery line, with an attitude of, “Eh, I’m reading it so this is okay!” Then I had my first taste of “revelation” when I was going through Leviticus: all the tedium and ceremony required to atone for sins against The Perfect God has been accomplished and finished the Jesus Christ’s work on the cross. It just fell on me like a ton of bricks. Thank goodness for the conveyor belt at the grocery line, or else I would not have had the mind to move my groceries.

I had a little celebration when I reached the book of Joshua though. I had this huge grin on my face, as I did a very 90’s fist- pump and hissing, “Yessssss~!” I was finally in my favorite book in the Bible! Then I realized, I was reading through the Bible like it was a work of fiction, like it was supposed to entertain me. See, even if it is supposed to speak to me, the Bible is not about me – it is about God and His relationship with us.

What got me further into the right direction was one of the classes in Victory Fort Bonifacio, then called the Purple Book Class. As a daily assignment, we were to read 3-4 chapters of the Bible every day, and write down our “thoughts” on what we have read. At first, I went about it like a book report (hahaha!) until (at the risk of sounding mystical) I learned how the Holy Spirit worked through Scripture, and conveyed God’s unique communication for me at a very specific time.

It helped that I am part of a cell/small group, attending services regularly, and having a community who bear witness to how God comforted them, encouraged them, and even humored them, through His word. By mid-2015, my habit started building up.

At first, I just went through the words; next, I was highlighting verses; next, I was highlighting verses and making notes (apps make it easy, even when on the go!) next, I was letting the verses lead my prayers – like having God speak first, before I did the talking; and soon, His word had become a source of daily sustenance. If ever I miss a day, I devoured six to eight chapters – not to catch up, but it was like I was so thirsty and I had deprived myself of water for a day.

Three days ago, I finished my Bible reading plan. Counting in missed days, I finished in about 13 months. I am just finishing a devotional and I will be starting again – with a French-language version, this time. I confess to feeling a withdrawal! It is one thing to read choice passages and verses in line with a devotional (and they are very helpful, do not get me wrong), but it is still quite another to uncover the word of God by yourself – or rather, through a one-on-one with Him. And instead of reading with the selfish desire of being entertained, or to just go through the motions, I approach my second reading with expectation and anticipation.

If you are new to the Christian life and you need proof that the Bible is indeed the living word of God; or if you are just about to launch into your first attempt at reading the Bible cover-to-cover, I encourage you to start. With a quick Google search, you will find that there are so many free plans online or embedded in good Bible apps, and commentaries to help you along (the historical and cultural background of the Judeo-Christian faith can be confusing for us in the current era!) and I do encourage you to join a Bible study group if you have not already.

About Cielo

I am a paper-pusher by day, a log by night, an aspiring singer-dancer and a wannabe artist in-between. I am also a Professional Space Cadet.
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