Reading The Great Story Again

Do you know the feeling when you sit down to read that favorite book that you've read and reread several times?  It's an odd mixture of contentment and excitement, of comfort and uneasiness.  

While at first glance those feelings might not seem to go together, but they do.  When you pick up that book that is like an old friend, and you commence to rereading it, you know what's going to happen.  You know the characters, you know the scenes, you know the plot of the story, and so you feel contentment and comfort.  

But there's also excitement and uneasiness because deep inside of us, we wonder whether we'll feel the same way about the book as we did the last time we read it.  Will we find the same joy?  Will it bring the same feelings of fulfillment?  

We also wonder if we'll find some new insight that might transform the way we feel about the book or the characters within the story.  "What if?" We ask ourselves. "What if I discover something about this story that changes the way I see it?"  

There's a handful of books in my library that are like that: The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings Triology by Tolkien, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, The Watchmen & V-For Vendetta by Alan Jones, The Sandman by Neil Gaiman---just to name a few. 

You can probably put your favorite movies into the mix of this conversation as well. I've seen some of my favorite movies 20 or thirty times and a few probably close to a hundred.  

We return to these stories for all of the reasons I mentioned before, but also because of this incredibly profound reason as stated by Arundhati Roy--I've highlighted it below:  

The secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets.  The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again… You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t.  In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won’t. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again.  

Some people have asked me over the years, "How do you still get excited about reading and studying the Bible?"  

Because it has no secrets... but is also incredibly full of new possibilities... because I feel those feelings of comfort and excitement every time I study it... because I have no idea what new thing I'm going to uncover, despite the fact that I know how the story goes. 

There have been times in my life when I wanted to quit the Bible, or at the very least to quit parts of it.  To be honest, there are passages in the Bible that are confusing at best and frustratingly awful at worst.  There are also so many passages in the Bible that get misused, misinterpreted, and weaponized.  

Still, I find myself drawn to it, and even more so now when I see how it's being used by far too many folks to exclude, divide, ostracize, subjugate, and a host of other nasty things.  

We should know that the Bible is a collection of books---books made up of stories, poems, histories, letters, and eyewitness accounts of extraordinary events.  And this whole collection tells the story of people waking up to the reality of God---a story that has been written since the very beginning of all things. 

It's a stepping-off point, not an ending.  It's The Great Story that we keep coming back to time and again as our faith seeks understanding.  This is in part what the Bible is to me.  

Take the time today to set up a daily ritual of reading Scripture.  You can do it through a Bible app on your phone, find one online, or just set off on your own with an actual Bible in your lap.  

May it be a comforting and exciting exercise that changes your life.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  

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