Fill in the blanks. “Ready, set, _____!” “Up, up, and ______!” “Luke, I am your ______.” How did you do? Most likely you said, “…go”, “…away”, and “…father.” There are so many other examples of sayings we know by heart. Maybe you have a song you know every single word to and could sing it totally by yourself even if only in the shower or in your own mind. Is there a movie your friends and family don’t like watching with you because you recite all the lines? “I feel the need, the need for speed!” Lol!
Even if you have never cracked open a Bible I bet most of you could fill in this blank from the first sentence of the Genesis, ” In the _____…” We get so use to certain passages of scripture either because they are our favorites or we’ve heard them endless times. Think for a minute what it would be like if you were to hear a particularly well known passage of scripture for the first time and were really, truly listening. Would you hear it differently then you remember it? Would something new stand out to you?
Personally I love it when this happens! For something old to be made new again is wonderful and a blessing! Having children and reading the Bible with them has created this experience time and time again. When a child asks a question we have to reframe it in our own minds to share it with them in a way they might understand. Ironically I understand it better too when I’ve done this. Does that mean we can sometimes make scripture too complicated? That’s a topic for another day!
For about a year I have been reading a well known piece of scripture twice a month, on the 1st and 15th of each month. The Biblical passage is 1 Corinthians 13. You know the one, the passage that is probably THE most read scripture at weddings. This habit came out of a Bible study I was doing on 1 Corinthians. I wanted to be reminded regularly of what love is meant to be. During this year of reading I have read different translations, read aloud, read silently, and had a family member read it to me. Each time I am listening for something new to take away. The one thing I have done that has made the biggest impact so far on my understanding has been to substitute a person’s name for the word “love” in verses 4-8. Before doing that I didn’t think I was doing too bad in showing love as described in 1 Corinthians 13. Then I put “Tammy” in for “love.” It was eye-opening, let me tell you. Some of it was reaffirming while other parts showed me where I could most definitely improve. Since that first time of substitution I have done it a couple of more times, sort of like a litmus test of how I am doing. Where could I put more effort and be more intentional in my responses to others? It has been a blessing.
How I read it this last week was another blessing. My family and I were spending Father’s Day weekend camping. One morning my husband and I were sitting outside before the kids were up reading. I shared with him this practice I have of reading 1 Corinthians 13 twice every month. Since that particular morning was the day I would normally read it I asked if I could read it aloud. When I got to verses 4-8 I substituted my husband’s name for the word “love”. I was brought to tears because my eyes were opened further as to what a blessing he is to me and our family, appropriate for Father’s Day weekend. Jay truly is all of those characteristics other than “never failing” since no one is perfect. So substituting another’s name may actually make you more appreciative of that person or provide a better perspective for the pedestal you may or may not have placed them on.
Reading scripture not only helps us understand ourselves more and give us better perspective but it also helps us look at those around us differently. I want to be more aware of how scripture can help with perspective each time I read it. I want to hear it anew every time. Father, may I see your word like the first time each time and may it refresh my life. Amen.