Snickers and Psalms

For the past six weeks I’ve been re-organising every room, cupboard, shelf, box and bucket I own in an attempt to fit a full office into a full house. It nearly worked. Good planning meant I left the office before the end of the contract. Unfortunately, that meant piles of bags and boxes with nowhere to go at home. We simply ran out of space.

\n

As things ramped up during the final clear out last week I realised I was living on a meagre diet – a daily Psalm in the morning and a Snickers for lunch. Even evening meals had become a functional affair as I am usually the one with time to cook and I had no time.

\n

I thought about this diet one day while sitting on a heap of boxes in the garage.

\n

I didn’t mind not eating much.

\nI had to think longer about not reading much scripture.

\n

Coming from an Evangelical perspective where being steeped in scripture is one of the keys to our personal walk with God it’s easy to become superstitious about how much we should read the bible in our devotions.

\n

Two thoughts occurred to me.

\n

First, to base any relationship on superstition (if I don’t do this then they won’t … love me) is a sign of both insecurity (have I done enough yet?) and possibly stupidity (I have done enough and of course they will … love me). If any other of our relationships were based on such levels of self-doubt it would reveal an unhealthy social framework in need of investigation. In the case of our relationship with God when our insecurity is superstition (God won’t hear my prayers if I don’t …) it is also unbelief.

\n

Fortunately neither we nor God need worry about such things. The framework is clear.

\n

We pray. God hears.

\nWe turn up even for a moment. God is waiting – and with joy, not looking at his (metaphorical) watch.

\n

Second, it made me think once again how much we have short changed congregations in our encouragement of Scripture reading. On 25 Alpha courses I have taught – Start with a few minutes of devotions a day (I think it’s seven minutes). And read the bible in a year if you can.

\n

7 minutes? Really?

\n

That sounds like “have a Snickers every day for lunch”.

\n

It’s not what I do. I read for hours. I have projects on the go in the Old and New Testaments. Diagrams. Lists. Numbers. Dates. Notes. Essays. Sermons. Blogs.

\n

Why would I think that someone else should have a Snickers while I have a gourmet meal?

\n

So when I get back to church I’m going to change the conversation. First, every week, I’m going to say “I hope you’re all reading your bibles”. We talk about what’s important and yet no-one EVER says that from the front of church.

\n

And then – the New Testament – the handbook for Jesus’ movement. It’s about 550 pages long. A bit longer than a thriller, a bit shorter than Lord of the Rings.

\n

Read it. Four weeks, six weeks tops. Read at different times of the day. Read it six times a year. Minimum.

\n

And if time is short carry a small Book of Common Prayer in one pocket and a Snickers in another and at least read the Psalm of the day at lunchtime.

\n