I went into the Bible reading a bit disappointed and annoyed, but I walked away with a full soul.
Every year, the community where I live has a Bible reading marathon, when the entire Bible is read aloud on the steps of the courthouse. People sign up for 15 minute slots (or more), and once the reading begins, it continues through the day and night until the last word of the Bible is read aloud. Even though it’s done at the courthouse, it draws very little attention (or opposition). It’s just someone reading quietly with another person nearby to cover unfilled time slots.
For several years, I’ve taken a block of late Saturday night with friends. It began with each of us taking our own 15 minute slot. Then we began taking a 2-hour slot and filling it as we felt like taking turns. This year, I signed up for a 3-hour slot. I knew it was a long block, but I was confident God was prompting me.
Very few people were able to help with the increased time block, so it ended up being me and one friend. I received a text early in the day to let me know, because of the pending rain, we’d be reading in a church instead of outside at the courthouse. The same thing happened last year. I was disappointed. I believe one of the points of the Bible reading marathon is a public reading of Scripture. Retreating to a church isn’t public. I think, in general, Christians in America are a bit soft. We aren’t willing to get out of our comfort zones.
But I had made a commitment, and I knew reading Scripture would still have power.
When I arrived, I quickly recognized Leviticus being read, so I found where the previous reader was, followed along, and prepared to read. My friend wasn’t there yet, so I began the shift and read for about 45 minutes before passing the baton to her. She read about the same time, finishing Leviticus, and handing Numbers to me.
I know it may sound horrible to have to read Leviticus and Numbers aloud. There are a lot of laws, names, and numbers. But I settled into a sweet spot. No matter what the context, I find God’s Word to be alive and powerful. I savored the recognition of sections I rarely come across in everyday life but have read many times as I work through the Bible each year. Even some of the drab statements and accounts popped off the page to me as they passed through my mouth. Instead of growing tired as I read, I felt more full and more alive.
I reluctantly stopped near the end of Numbers a little after midnight, since the next readers were ready. I walked outside and breathed deeply. The air felt crisp, the sky seemed vast, and life felt purposeful.
God uprooted my disappointment and frustration and filled me. Reading aloud is nourishing and powerful.
Give it a try today.