This Lent, I’ve been doing a reading plan through Bible Gateway that will take me through all of the New Testament by Easter. So far I’ve been quite good about it—there have been a couple days when I missed all or some of the chapters, but I’ve always gone back and caught up.
I’m over halfway through the plan now, and yet, I don’t really feel like it’s doing anything.
Sure, sometimes when I read it I’m not fully engaged and am reading the words merely to say I’ve read them, but there are times when I really am paying close attention. In an effort to keep me from being able to skim so easily, I’m reading The Message, instead of my usual NIV or ESV. There have been moments when certain verses or phrases stick out to me a bit, but certainly no lightning bolts. Not that I necessarily expected one, but it sure would be nice.
I’ve tried not reading the Bible at all for a while, I’ve tried eating something I enjoy while I read it as a reminder of its goodness, and now I’m trying a fairly regimented approach to reading it.
And none of it seems to be “working.” Whatever “working” exactly means when it’s applied to Bible reading.
If it’s supposed to break God’s seeming silence, it’s certainly not working the way I’d like it to.
I can’t pinpoint when I wandered into this weird space of not really knowing what’s going on with God. It’s been some time now though, and while I’ve seen glimpses of him here and there, mostly I have not.
God is there—I’m as certain of it as I think I can be (which is to say, not 100%, but enough to continue believing and living like it)—but it kind of seems like he’s not.
In the midst of all of it, I’m continuing to look for the lessons here. And I’m coming to realize it’s not in my right to DEMAND more of God. It’s what I want to do, and oh how I wish he’d give in to my foot-stomping wails for him to appear, but that is not how he operates. Or at least, it’s not how he has to.
He doesn’t have to do anything.
I’ve realized I’m still not tempted to walk away from this faith thing—that’s never really been a serious consideration in my mind, even here, in this strange space. I think this is me learning that inherent in the idea of “faith” is the idea keeping after it, whether or not the feelings are there.
So where does that leave me?
If the ways I’ve seen and felt God at work in my life turn out to be all I ever get, for the rest of my breathing days, is it enough?
I can’t say with absolutely certainty, because life may be long and messy and painful, but I think it might be.
If reading the Bible never starts feeling like it’s “working” again, if my problems with prayer persist, if God never shows up in a pillar of fire, is it enough?
I hope so.
Til next time…
p.s. What do you do when reading the Bible doesn’t seem to be “working?”