Did you read your Bible this morning? If not, take comfort in knowing that you and I have that in common.
“Wake up early in the morning before the real day begins and read the Bible to help you fight the good fight.” Whoever said that is probably the jerk whose car alarm woke me up at six this morning in the first place. I remember someone told me that Martin Luther responded to the question of how to deal with a busy day as such: “Work, work, from early until late. In fact, I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” Pft. What a keener.
Do you know what my Bible looks like at 6:00 AM? “But who so loketh in the parfaict lawe of libertie and continueth ther in (yf he be not a forgetfull hearer but a doar of ye worke) the same shall be happie in his dede.” Now envision that through eyes encrusted with salad croutons and a mind still fresh with a dream where blue-colored people descended from the clouds to watch TV with you.
“Nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’ ‘cause it’s free,” are the words of the Kris Kristofferson’s song, “Me and Bobby McGee.” It means the good things in life come with a price. A $100 laptop sounds great until you try and play high-end video games on it. An iThingy from Apple always costs twice as much as anything else, but it also sells better than anything else. Organic fruit will cost you twice as much as the corner-store-pesticide version.
Moral of the story? You get what you pay for.
It’s the same with reading the Bible. If we spend the entire day shuttling children from the bedroom to the bathroom, then from the kitchen to the minivan, where we further taxi them from house to school, school to soccer, soccer to band practice and then onto bed, we have little left to give to that forgotten book sitting under the tower of un-filed bills and forgotten appointment slips. Our lives bulge with jobs and school and church functions. On the weekends, to assuage our guilt, we sign up for workshops to have some guy tell us how to make our lives less busy.
But when was the last time you really read the Bible?
The same verse I listed above in Old English reads this way in the New International Version: “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do” (James 1:25).
Ever read something and five minutes later forget what you just read? I guess that’s what this verse is getting at. God wants us to know his word, not just read it. I never knew my Social Security number off by heart until I joined the Army, where you say it and write more often than you say words like “and” or “but”. Reading the Bible like that comes with a price. It means getting up earlier or staying awake later. It means re-organizing the chaotic sock drawers of our lives. We want the Bible on top of the tower and not on the bottom.
Because the verse says that we will be blessed in what we do. I don’t know about you, but I am a huge fan of blessings. I want my efforts to succeed, my words to change lives and my thoughts to please God. Even when life throws me curve balls, I want to be the guy who can say “Praise the Lord” without gritting my teeth when I say it. Don’t you?
So, Mr. Luther, I still think you were from a different planet, but I guess setting the alarm an hour earlier probably won’t kill me and I have something you probably never had: coffee. Read it like you mean it people, and the Lord will bless you. I guess it’s time for me to thank my neighbour for his car alarm now.
Some have said that peace is the most elusive treasure in all the world. It's so hard to find. Some believe it's an illusion. Others feel it is temporary and beyond our control. But the words of God paint a different picture about finding true peace.