I love the Bible. Cover to cover every book and chapter contain revelation and insight into who God is and how he relates to his people. I want to know God deeper and deeper each day, but if I’m honest there are many parts of the Bible that I find very hard to read – especially right now. I’m at the end of the Old Testament and yikes! So much rebellion, punishment, pain and justice. Sprinkled throughout the major and minor Prophets are verses and a few chapters the sparkle with hope, but overall it’s a challenge to plow through and not be overwhelmed with heaviness.
What I am grateful for is how all throughout scripture, no matter how awful the circumstances the Lord always chose to use everyday people to accomplish his plans. The shepherd, a mother, the youngest sibling, the outcast, the weirdo prophet, and the barren woman were just some of God’s chosen. It’s important to remember that the “heros” were often not the ones the general public would nominate. Because they have been memorialized in the most famous and most read book in history we can easily forget that they themselves were not famous or even special. They were average, very real people who the Lord chose to use to reveal truths about himself, accomplish his plans, and his relationship to us.
It is important to remember that when we place the people of the Bible in a category of infamy we loose sight of the point – they were real people having real encounters and relationships with the almighty God. If we don’t catch this we will distance ourselves from the same kind of encounter and relationship.
The theatre company I worked for most of my professional career had a mission statement, to tell good stories well. I love a good story! As I transitioned out of my career as an actor I knew I would spend the rest of my life telling the best story well – the story of God’s love for us. Because of this passion, I deeply appreciate others whose desire is to bring the stories of the Bible to life.
In her book She Walked Before Us, Jill Eileen Smith looks at 12 women of the Old Testament through creative narrative rooted in biblical truth. In each chapter Smith focuses on a specific woman presenting a unique challenge or triumph and invites the reader to “imagine,” “ponder” and “take it further.”
Before reading this book I was already acquainted with each woman, however in every chapter I found myself having “ah-ha” moments and growing in my appreciation for the realness and relevance of the Word of God. I highly recommend this book. If you’ve never spent time with the women of the Old Testament you will love to discover these gems. And if you already know them you will love them even more as you connect with them in a fresh way.
And finally I want to encourage you, if the Bible is intimidating to you and you just don’t know where to start, the book of John is a great New Testament choice and reading one chapter a day from the book of Proverbs will give you very practical tools for everyday life. Also, I love Genesis and Exodus! They read like an adventure story – try it! And when you get to the list of people’s names, I bless you to skip past it on your first time around. Just start somewhere. Scripture wasn’t written to us today, it was written for our benefit. It is alive and breathing and will fill you with hope and connect you to the Lord who loves you.