It’s my daughter’s first day at a summer job. The job is a miracle; a gift in an economy unkind to students, new graduates and 55-year-old men and women who have been laid off.
Firsts are hard. First days of school with their stomach-ache and tight new shoes; first days of jobs with their need to make a good impression; a first kiss with awkward lips meeting for the first time, the excitement coupled with sheer terror at moving into a new place in the relationship.
But there’s something I love about firsts. It’s in the hyper-awareness I experience of everything around me. The attention to detail, the adrenaline that pumps, the feeling of accomplishment that I actually got to the place I was supposed to and logged on to a computer, or found my boss. That feeling at the end of my first day that “I did it!”. That honeymoon stage where despite everything being new, I feel truly alive. That’s what I envy of my daughter’s first day.
It is a contrast to the mundane where I think I know everything and I go through life on autopilot, sometimes not even recognizing new if it’s staring me in the face.
It was in the grey of November last year, a grey that comes after the brilliance of fall, that I longed again for a first. For a beginning. And in my case it was a spiritual beginning. My faith was old and stale; stale like the old bread on my counter that crumbles as you pick it up. So stale that preservatives are no longer effective. Not even fresh butter and home-made jam can take away the staleness.
I knew all the things I should do; I knew about Bible study and prayer, about connecting with people and service, about waiting and patience. But knowing those things was part of the problem. I needed to go back to a first – a first love. I needed to remember a place where all was new, each word, each concept, each discipline.
And so I started with the Beginning. I decided that I would read the Bible as though I’d never read it. I would have no schedule, there would be no rules, there would be no mantras – I would just read.
I began at Genesis and I began to read. And I read and read and read some more. When I stopped I left a piece of paper marking the spot. I didn’t write or journal, I just read. And pretty soon creation and the fall were over and I was into Exodus, and I continued to read. I read things I don’t remember ever reading, I felt no pressure or guilt, I just read.
And as I read an extraordinary thing happened. I began to feel like this was a first. It was like I was seeing these words for the first time. The adrenaline began pumping and I was hyper aware. Truth entered into stale, new entered into old, I felt I was reborn.
It is the end of June and I have just entered Samuel. The wordless petition of Hannah is over and Samuel has just heard the voice of God. It was his first.
- Bible in 365, Week One: Reading the Bible in its entirety for the first time and the God who sees me (emmillerwrites.wordpress.com)