Originally published Monday, 21 May 2012.
It’s been awhile since I’ve done much reading outside of the Bible.
Every so often, I have do something like that—put aside all the books that are fresh with copyrights and whose authors are still alive and doing book tours. I have to put them aside so that I can better focus my devotions on that one Book that is as old as time but more important than any other book since.
It’s not that the books I’m apt to read are wrong or bad. They’re not. In fact they’re almost all about that one Book, anyway. But that’s the thing. While they may be about that Book, they are not that Book.
That distinction makes all the difference.
Sometimes it can be incredibly helpful and insightful and necessary to sit down with one of those books, which sheds light on what the Lord has written in his own Book. Those books help us grow closer to that Book and learn to love it like the Author always intended. Many books have done that for me.
But as helpful as those books can be, we must not forget the fact that they are not the Book. At some point, we must go to the Book itself to quench our thirsts and to inform our understandings. We can’t always take someone else’s opinion of it. We have to let the Holy Spirit be our guide, rather than another human being.
The first time I realized this was a couple years after I’d become a Christian. I was devouring these sorts of books, ordering them like candy and chewing on them each night before bed and on my lunch break. They were all Christian living titles, which helped me wrap my head around how I ought to, as a Christian, approach things like dating and politics and the environment and my tendency to stress out over the littlest of things.
They were so helpful in helping shape my understanding of how the Bible and God’s teachings fit into this crazy, chaotic world of ours.
But I realized that I was reading them to the detriment of actually reading the Book that they were all quoting from and point toward. And so, I took my first sabbatical from the books of this world and dedicated myself to reading only the Book. The only Book that can wear a capitalized “B” and you know exactly what I’m talking about. That one.
It was at a similar spot where I found myself a few months ago.
As a writer, I’m also a natural-born bibliophile. It was a love of books that was one of the first things that impressed me about the man whom I later married and who brought his own share of paged volumes into the relationship.
So, I’m easily lured to want to read more, to pick up a new book and learn from what it’s author has gleaned and experienced and written down to share with the world. I trust that there’s plenty to be found in those pages that can help me on this journey to know and love and obey this great Author who has written a story that has captured my heart.
But at some point, those books started to lose interest to me. Even as I stared at my bookshelves and saw so many spines that had yet to be read, they held no sway over me.
There were no more divided attentions. It was only the one Book that I wanted to sit down with and read, to turn to, to sit with. And so, I did.
For months, that’s how it went. And I couldn’t be happier—thrilled, really—to realize that. To know that my truest desire was to sit down with this Book rather than any other book, written by any other hand. I stand in awe, knowing truly how many times I prayed for that kind of heart and desire.
Sure there are still days when I have to make myself sit down with my Bible. There are days I’d rather be working on a craft or lounging on the couch rather than hunkered over this age-old tome. But my heart is understanding how much more I need this Book than any other, and it considers all others second to this One.
I’ve recently dipped my toes back into the reading-other-books-outside-the-Bible waters and made my way through some new books—some of which were worth the time and some of which weren’t. I’ll be sharing some of my thoughts on a couple of those books next week, but for now, it’s a reminder to me why I choose to keep my focus on that one Book, because it is the one that can never disappoint:
“But if you keep looking steadily into God’s perfect law—the law that sets you free—and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, God will bless you for doing it.” (James 1:25)
Carmen writes the blog, Life Blessons, which provides an intimate look into her life as a twentysomething woman as she details her experiences learning how to live out her faith, enjoy the simple things in life and be the woman God created to her to be. Along the way, she shares the blessings and lessons that are a part of this journey, the things she likes to call her "blessons."
Feel free to learn more at her blog, Life Blessons.
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