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As some of you know, this blog hosted a Bible read-through in July and August. I’m not sure how many of those who initially said they’d do the read-through actually made it all the way to the end, but I do know for sure that Bibles got into hands that hadn’t been in hands for a while, and that’s a good start. God can take it from there.
After I finished the read-through on August 31st, I asked God the next day what I should read. This is my usual habit, to ask God what I should read, and he always tells me. On September 1st, the day after the Bible Read-Through ended, I asked God what I should read and he told me to read the Bible all the way through again.
So back I went to Genesis.
A few weeks later, when I was just shy of a third of the way through the second Bible read-through, God told me it would be a good idea if I’d finish reading it by the end of the month (September), so that I could read it again during the first three weeks of October.
The Bible Read-Through in July and August was 40 days. The September read-through is 30 days, and the October read-through will be around 20 days. I’m not sure what’s going on, but God’s never advised me to read like this before. Usually he suggests a book or a chapter, or sometimes even just a single psalm or verse. But advising three read-throughs, one after the other, is unprecedented. It’s like marathon training, especially since the second and third read-throughs are much deeper than the first and in progressively shorter time-spans.
So I asked God what’s going on with all the Bible read-throughs (we can ask him these things; that’s what he’s there for), but all he’d tell me was “Preparation”. Just like that: “Preparation”. And when I tried to get more details out of him, he clammed up.
We all prepare in different ways, depending on our relationship with God and Jesus and what’s coming up around the bend. To a certain extent, we can know the depth of our relationship with God and Jesus, but we can’t always know what’s coming up around the bend. Sometimes we can know, but other times God keeps the details hidden for reasons that are best known to him. God isn’t guiding me to prep food or supplies; he’s not guiding me to learn survival skills or join a network of like-minded people: He’s getting me to cram his Word.
If I could, I would stick a straw through the middle of the Bible cover and just drink it all up. One of my older Bibles has started to disintegrate, with pieces of the cover and corners of some pages falling off. I kept the pieces for a while; some of them I taped back on, but some of the pieces were so small, I didn’t know where they belonged, so I put them on an end table under a lamp, and left them there.
And then one day I ate them.
Don’t ask me why. I just felt prompted to eat them. They were only little pieces of paper, some thicker than others, but none any bigger than a fingernail clipping. I felt it was the best thing to do with them. They are now part of me. I like that the Bible is now part of me not just as an impression through words, but as a physical symbiosis. The Bible is feeding me figuratively and literally.
I lived in Australia back in the late 1990s. A big black spider took up residence in my bathroom one day, and when I showed it to my then-boyfriend, he said to kill it. The way he said “Kill it”, just like that, made me realize it must be very poisonous, as normally he just let things be. The spider was too big for me to squish underfoot, so I thought instead I would try to drown it in dishwashing liquid and then scoop it into the toilet. Well, the Aussie dollar store dishwashing liquid must have been made of pure rainwater, because the more I poured onto the spider, the livelier it got. Finally after about half a bottle, the little legs stopped jerking and I thought that was that… but a few seconds later, the spider sprang to life again.
By that point I was completely freaked out, and had also started to feel bad for the spider. So I got a glass jar with a lid and scooped the spider into the jar instead of into the toilet and screwed the lid on tight. My plan was to suffocate the spider (I figured it would just fall asleep) instead of trying to drown it. I know how nasty that sounds, but those were my atheist days, and I didn’t have the same sensibilities about God’s creatures that I have now.
For three months I watched that spider in the jar. It somehow survived having half a bottle of dishwashing liquid poured onto it, and then it survived months of living in an air-tight container. It would spin a web and then eat it, and then spin another web, and eat that. It got everything it needed by eating its own web.
After three months of watching this, I’d had enough and declared the spider the winner. I’d never seen survival on that level before. As an atheist, I couldn’t explain what was going on with the spider, and it weirded me out. As a believer, I understand. The tiny creature’s God-given instinct to survive was perfectly supported by its God-given built-in survival tools. The spider was a self-sustaining ecosystem, courtesy of God.
I hope I get to meet that spider someday, if and when I get to Heaven. Of course, we both won’t remember what I did to it, but we’ll know we’d met somewhere before, and we’ll be friends.
In hindsight, I learned a lot not only from the spider’s willingness to survive, but from its mind-boggling ability to survive. I don’t believe that God gives this willingness and ability only to spiders in Australia: I believe he’s given it to all his creatures, including us.
When I read, and then reread, and then reread again God’s Word, it gets impressed on me deeper and darker each time, like lines being traced and retraced. They become more vivid and also more physical with each tracing, moving from the page into my mind and then physically into my body. The impression they leave is not just an idea, but an imprint that stays on me and in me for life.
What’s coming down the road or just up around the bend, we don’t always know. We might prepare for a flood, and then get a fire. But I do know that whatever tools we need to survive, God has given us already. They’re within us, waiting for the right time to be used. God has also given us the willingness to survive, even captivity in an airtight container with nothing to eat but his Word.