I received my first Bible from my parents as a gift on my 9th birthday. Despite multiple attempts to read it over the years, I always gave up in Genesis around Chapter 35 when it went into all the births and their descendants…’so and so was born who begot this person, and then the next so and so who begot more people and so and so and then they begot like 10 more people who begot like 20 more so and so’s and so on’ – obviously I’m paraphrasing, but it seriously made my head spin and I couldn’t follow any of it, and the fact that I couldn’t even pronounce any of their names made it worse.
The perfectionist, somewhat know-it-all that I was, I decided reading the Bible wasn’t going to be my thing; convinced if I didn’t get it then (at the ripe old age of 9) I’d never get it, so I gave up.
Besides, as far as I was concerned, I believed in God and that was sufficient; I didn’t feel the need to know all the details about him or the history. They were merely stories from my naive point of view and not at all necessary for my to live my life and still be a child of God.
Boy, was I wrong…and a tad arrogant and full of myself, not to mention completely misguided by my own self-righteous views.
Fast forward to 2001 (or 16 years ago), when I started working at a Christian University where I met my pastor friend; who for the next 16 years, tried relentlessly to expose me to the truth (the Word of God), to which I adamantly refused to see or accept. He even bought me a newer version of the Bible (one that he was sure would be much easier to read than the one I got in 1980). And I was very appreciative and decided I’d finally try to read it again; and then I got to Genesis Chapter 35.
16 years later, on January 1, 2017, I found myself in my basement searching tirelessly for that Bible. I prayed the whole time, “Please Lord, help me find my Bible!” Shortly after my frantic pleas, I finally found it. It was buried underneath a bunch of useless crap and junk inside an old box; the outside was covered in dust and mildew and the musty pages reeked from years of neglect. And in that moment, I was suddenly filled with a combination of joy, relief, and shame; utterly ashamed of myself that I’d disregarded the Holy Book, as if it was nothing more than a book of nursery rhymes, abandoned to a box and subjected to the nasty miserable elements of my damp, dark, scary, useless mess of a basement.
I’m sharing this because my carelessness and disregard of the Holy Bible, was pretty much the same way I treated myself and the life I lived; careless and reckless, doing the same to myself on the inside and out – building layer after layer of dirty, moldy appearances on the outside and a stinky mildew-covered soul on the inside.
‘No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began’ – 1 Corinthians 2:8
I didn’t know all those years that by keeping my Bible hidden, I’d been hiding myself from knowing the wisdom of God. So, in my frantic and desperate state to try and cleanse myself of all the things about me that I was so sick and tired of, I took my moldy Bible and sat down on the bottom step of my basement, and opened it to the musty, smelly pages of Matthew. (with a cup of coffee in one hand, and a lit cigarette in the other).
About an hour later when I got the end of Matthew, I broke down, poured my heart out to God, pleaded for His forgiveness – to cleanse my soul and restore my spirit and make me new again. He washed away all of my sins in that moment and I knew I’d been forgiven and reborn; fully committed to Him and to live the rest of my days for Him.
Not only was my faith restored and my sins forgiven, but my relentless pursuit of Him, to know Him – all of Him, began in that profound moment.
I used to think being saved required some outlandish ceremony, a formal event with meat and cheese trays and pastors and holy water and a special gown for me to wear, something that takes weeks to prepare for; now I know being baptized in the Holy Spirit doesn’t require any of this – it can happen just the same on a dirty basement step with a moldy musty Bible in your lap and a cup of coffee.
-Excerpt from the book Digging for God, to be released late summer 2017.