I regularly find myself saying something similar about the Bible. Yes, statistics tell us that there are 66 books, containing over 770,000 words (depending on translation) divided into just over 31,000 verses (to help us navigate around). The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35, the longest is Esther 8:9. The middle chapter (and also the shortest) is Psalm 117. The longest chapter is Psalm 119. There are hundreds of other statistics that I could quote to you about the Bible.
But that’s not my point. It’s not the number of words, verses, chapters or books that impress me. It’s how God can reveal new things through the Bible each time I come to it. He reveals new things through familiar passages. I had that experience on Sunday morning when my colleague Lynsey was preaching. I had that experience last night when I was preaching. There is so much more in the Bible than the 770,000 words. I had that experience this morning when I read a passage for my own reflection.
It doesn’t always happen. Sometimes the words are just words. The silence is deafening and the pages become flat and one-dimensional. Those are sometimes the occasions when I am in a hurry, when reading the Bible has been reduced to a habit (not a bad one). They can be moments when I feel that God is distant from me (usually because I have tuned him out). They are often when my reading or listening are not accompanied by praying.
But there are other times when the words assume a life of their own and truth leaps out at me from every syllable. Those are moments to stop, to ponder, to listen, to reflect, to take note, to respond and to pray.
This morning I read the passage in John 5:1-15 where Jesus healed a man who had been paralysed for 38 years. He asked him a seemingly obvious question: “Do you want to get well?”
But the man’s response was not, “Yes please!” He concentrated on his problems and blamed others (there was nobody to help him) rather than focusing on the One who would be the answer.
Later, after he had been healed and was carrying his mat back home, the religious people told him off for carrying it on the Sabbath. He blamed Jesus for telling him to pick up the mat rather than getting them to focus on the miracle that had happened.
What’s God saying to you today?
Be blessed, be a blessing.
I used to think that the smallest person in the Bible was Bildad the Shuhite. But apparently it is the man who fell asleep on his watch!