I don’t know about you, but I get cravings for certain types of food. Sometimes, I want something salty; other times, a chocolate-chip cookie would hit the spot. (No one has yet proven a correlation between my wife’s cooking skills and what I’m hungry for, but I suspect that these two events are not entirely independent.) However, a snack isn’t always enough. There are days when I really want to bite into a big, juicy cheeseburger, complete with a couple of slices of tomato, and maybe some A-1 or barbecue sauce. In those cases, a few fries or chips aren’t going to do it.
There are a lot of great passages in the Bible. In today’s age of information, it’s easy to find a devotional book that offers a little thought, and then a few verses to go along with that thought. (The better devotions do it the other way – giving you a passage to read from the Bible, and then building upon it.)
The other day, though, I was feeling a craving for something more – not just a few scattered verses each day, but just to sit down and read a good-sized chunk of the Bible, all at once. There was something I wanted to get out of God’s Word – knowledge, understanding, completeness – that wouldn’t necessarily appear one verse at a time.
Sometimes, we need to sit down to a full meal’s worth of reading the Bible, embracing not just its individual points, but the entire, integral message that it presents. When we do so, even the individual verses that we may like to review – or even memorize – become part of the entire, larger story.
Furthermore, in the case I mentioned above, I think that this “holy discontent” may have also come from having read many other points of view. Online articles, blog posts, and radio talks are informative – not just about facts and news, but also to learn how people look at the world. After a while, though, I just find it wearying to continually sort through the noise, the lies, and the fallacies (many propagated by those who are sincere or earnest, but whose claims just don’t hold up to inspection) out in the world, just to find the truth. After a while, I don’t want to keep looking through piles of junk to locate some good finds (like browsing a so-so flea market). Instead, I want to shop where everything is new (and works!).
I can’t put it entirely into words, but I have learned to experience the joy, encouragement, and satisfaction of sitting down and reading a whole chapter of the Bible. With its words having earned my trust, I don’t have to worry that the message is deceptive. I don’t have to put up shields to listen for (and block out) human ideas that sound nice, but are just wrong. There’s no extolling of evil (although there is a lot of evil described in the Bible; it’s just exposed for what it is, rather than being treated as ok).
I’d like to think that I’m not alone in this hunger for reading the Bible. Once, when being tempted, Jesus used a reference from the book of Deuteronomy, referring to both food and God’s Word.
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God .'”
Matthew 4:4 NASB
While this doesn’t directly say that Jesus enjoyed reading the Scriptures (in so many words), I have to think that He did. I don’t want to read too much into the Bible, but Jesus also pointed out to His disciples the following:
Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.
John 4:31-34 NASB
So, if you’re finding that you have an intellectual, spiritual, or relational craving that you just can’t satisfy, let me recommend the all-you-can-eat buffet of the Bible. Don’t believe me, or have you read the reviews and seen different opinions on Bible reading? Give it a try, and find out for yourself! The chapters in which the verses above are found happen to be some great places to start.