Writer’s are always being scolded to read great works of literature. If you want to write well, read well. E.B. White is one often mentioned, as is the Bible. This marks my fourth year in my journey to read the Bible in one year. (I chose the M’cheyne Bible Reading Plan), This is not my fourth time reading the Bible in one year, but rather it has taken me four years to get to the point where I have 48 days left to read the Bible in one year. The reason for the time delay is not a lack of diligence, but rather, confusion. The Bible is a tough read; but if you’re going to tackle such a massive story, you might as well not waste your time, and find a way to resolve the confusion. I did this by referring to Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, which I referred to daily to explain what was happening in specific passages.
As a writer, I often marveled at the length of space required in Mr. Henry’s commentary to explain what was merely a square inch of text in the Bible. Mr. Henry would go on for pages, and yet I never found a point where I could stop, and say, OK, I get it… let me get back to the Bible and finish. Every word of the Mr. Henry’s commentary excavated deep gems out of the simple words. I use the word “gem” on purpose. What appeared to be insignificant, when brought out into the light, and polished with Mr. Henry’s waxing and waning, turned out to shine with brilliance.
Did you know, for example, that those words, Emmanuel, that we hear so often in the Christmas story, which mean, “God is with us,” did not bring the sort of comfort and reassurance that we associate with those words. Those very words, that we use so casually in cases of terror and tragic events, were an actual source of terror to the Old Testament citizens. I will direct you to other sources for a awe-inducing and logical explanation to learn more.
If anything, reading Mr. Henry’s commentary alongside of the Bible, gave me, as a writer, a reverent appreciation for the Bible’s ability to cover so many nuances in such few words. Economy of words — it’s something all writer’s strive for. I will do this again, probably using a different plan, because I believe Bibles should become worn and tattered from over-use.
If you are doing New Year’s Resolutions this year, let me highly recommend reading the Bible, cover to cover, as one to add. Yes, it will change your perspective on who you thought God was, what Jesus really did say, and how he responded. If you really read it, and take it to heart, it will eliminate anxiety. Yes, it will improve your writing, your intelligence, and it’s a great way to exercise your brain. Reading the Bible will make you less inclined to jump into conversations to say what you think should be said; because you will have a deep appreciation that what you see, is not always what it appears to be. Just keep in mind, it will probably take you longer than a year to complete this resolution.