Bible in a year – on the train!

During 2012, a number of people from my church are reading through the Bible.  Each day, there are three or four chapters to read, and the idea is that with quite a number of us reading it at the same time, we will have plenty of people to share encouragements with or to ask about the confusing bits (and let’s face it, there are quite a few of those!).  There is no obligation on anyone to do it, and nobody will be frowned upon for slipping behind or doing anything differently.

Now, for somebody who loves to read, I am surprisingly bad at reading the Bible.  Even having an email arrive every day containing some verses from scripture and somebody’s thoughts about them didn’t always work out and the growing number of unread messages in my inbox made me feel awful!  I realised quite quickly that in order to be disciplined about reading every day, I would have to make some sort of change to my routine, and a change that I could stick to easily.  Many Christians read their Bible first thing in the morning, but I tend to find I’m not really fully awake until the train is about half way to work, so this didn’t seem like a good plan.  Getting up any earlier would not be particularly advisable when so many of my evenings are busy.  So I had a think, and realised there was a time in the day which I can set aside to read the Bible and think/ponder/meditate on it.  The journey home.  It has often been a frustration to me that several trains will leave the station heading in a general homewards direction before one comes through which is actually stopping at Canterbury.  One of these trains is a whizzy high speed one, which always has seats available (whereas the Canterbury train is generally full to overflowing).  A simple solution, then – board the high speed one (which my season ticket allows) and read the day’s passage, then change when the train terminates and wait for the next train to take me the last couple of stops home.  It’s not a huge amount of time, but it is a change in routine that is sustainable.  The weekends are another matter, and oddly this has become the time I’m most likely to miss the day’s reading, when theoretically I have much more time available.

Apparently, this new habit of mine is quite unusual.  During a ticket check one day, the onboard manager said “now, that’s a rare sight these days!”  Perhaps there were once legions of commuters with their noses in Bibles, but apparently not any more.  He seemed quite heartened to see it, though maybe it was the rarity value rather than anything else which made him feel that way.

So far, we have read through the books of Genesis and Exodus, which between them contain many of the Bible stories which people remember from their childhood – Joseph and his lovely coat, the plagues of Egypt, Noah and the flood and so on.  Although I have read all of it before, there were many things which struck me in a new way or which I just hadn’t noticed before.  For example, I hadn’t realised how prominent the theme of reconciliation is in Genesis, with a number of bitter feuds being resolved peacefully and emotionally rather than through violence.  And one verse which really jumped out at me came in the middle of the “song of Moses”, which I had always previously dismissed as a somewhat disturbing rant saying “hurrah, God killed lots of Egyptians”.  But this verse tells of the relationship between God and His people:

You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain,

the place, O LORD, which you have made for your abode,

the sanctuary, O LORD, which your hands have established.

That was Exodus, chapter 15, verse, 17 from the English Standard Version.  Quite a beautiful image, I think.  When I then found this echoed in Nehemiah’s prayer (the subject of the latest sermon at church), I got very excited indeed.  Again from the ESV, Nehemiah chapter 1 verse 9 says :

but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.

I keep coming back to this image of God gathering his people in, caring for them and dwelling with them.  Abode and dwell are such old-fashioned words, but they are coloured with ideas that are much stronger than simply the concepts of living or home.  There is an implication of closeness and community which is quite mind-blowing to consider.

Even reading some of the more difficult passages, I find myself becoming intrigued, excited and amazed in turn.  Through this small amount of time and the discipline of reading just a few chapters each day, I feel as though the fire of my faith is being fanned into something stronger, deeper and more passionate than it has been for a long time.  I can’t wait to see what there is to discover over the rest of this year.

    • pao
    • January 28th, 2012

    Go for it David, that seems like a prime opportunity to be guaranteed the time particularly when self discipline to make the time is an issue. I think I am up to day 121 of a Bible in a year and I started that in August 2008…

  1. Those are some great verses. I like those ‘old-fashioned’ words and their implications.

    I read the Bible on the train as well, but on the way to work, because I usually find it more difficult to concentrate on the way home, for some reason..

  1. February 1st, 2012

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