Surprised by the Word


I’m using Professor Horner’s Bible reading system this year. I do not know the history behind his method; however, I think it was developed solely for the purpose of reading through the whole Bible faster and more than once in a calendar year. If you aren’t familiar with the plan, the gist of it is that I am reading one chapter in ten different parts of the Bible every day. Today is the 26th, so I’ve read 260 chapters so far this year. That’s way, way, way more scripture than I had read by this time last year.

While the pace has been demanding, I do like the benefits. First, I don’t have as much time to read other things. When I find myself with some time to read, I end up reading one or two of the day’s chapters instead of something else. I can already tell a positive difference in my thinking and my attitude throughout the day.

Of course, the benefit and the drawback are one and the same: I’m reading ten chapters per day. I do not have the time I’d like to spend on the parts that have generated lots of questions for me. For instance, I’d like to take my time through a book like Isaiah. One chapter a day through Isaiah would be perfect, however, that isn’t the only chapter I’m reading. My mind doesn’t have the time it wants to really ruminate over his words.

Similarly, thanks to years of inductive Bible study, my brain is trained to notice repeated words. As you know, I am on the hunt for ‘delight,’ but that hasn’t kept me from being distracted and surprised by so many other repeated words.

Take the word “gates,” for instance. Gates are mentioned throughout scripture. They are mentioned in Genesis, the Gospels, Paul’s letters, Acts, Psalms, Proverbs, and Isaiah…everywhere. Gates are possessed, thrown open, broken down, respected, moved, constructed from various materials, and protect cities. People interact with gates, conduct business at gates, sit in gates, stand in gates, and guard gates. It is a small, seemingly insignificant word, but it has made an appearance in several chapters lately. I wanted to stop and study more. But if I do that for every repeated word that strikes my curiosity, I will fall behind.

Finally, I am praying to better understand how God interacts with his people across the Canon. I want to seek him and find him in his word. I want to know what He would say to me. Last night I read Genesis 25 and came across the first mention (I love first mentions!) of a woman seeking the Lord (I think). It was Rebekah and she needed to understand what was going on in her womb. “The children struggled together within her, and she said, ‘If it is thus, why is this happening to me?’ So she went to inquire of the Lord.” After reading only of men building altars and inquiring of the Lord, I gasped when I saw a feminine subject doing the seeking. There are so many things I want to know about this event that scripture just doesn’t tell me. But I suppose the most important thing is that she inquired of the Lord, and He answered her. How wonderful is that?

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3 thoughts on “Surprised by the Word

  1. I can understand the frustration of not being able to take longer over passages, but I think it’s exciting to try something new and to get more of God’s Word into your heart. I can imagine how reading it throughout the day instead of other things would change your attitude and keep bringing you back to the truth. I remember that story of Rebekah, too.

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