The first time I ever held a Bible was as a little girl sitting in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. I opened the first pages and read until the story of Cain and Abel, the first murder in history. Oh, this is scary! thought my little grade school mind. Then as a teenager, I picked up the Bible again and decided to start from the end this time! So I began reading the book of Revelation. This is some really weird stuff! I thought, and once again, I closed the book, no more enlightened than I had been.
Off to college as a very confused young woman, I was gifted a booklet of the Gospel of John. Over the next couple of days I read through this amazing book on the life and teachings of Christ, and when I was done, I could tell that a transformation had happened in my soul.
Finally I had found a part of the Bible that I could understand, and it turned out to be not at the beginning, nor at the end, but somewhere in the middle! Jesus’ teachings in the Gospels aren’t ordinary words. He called them “spirit and life,”1 and they have the power to transform hearts.
Later I learned that the Bible isn’t really one book, but rather a collection of books. The Old Testament contains books of history, poetry, and prophecy. The New Testament contains the Gospels, the story of the early church, collections of letters, and ends with a book of prophecy. Some writings teach history, others are instructional, others are inspirational or devotional.
After studying the Gospels, I was ready to start again at the beginning, the Old Testament. I was amazed by the common thread of God reaching out to men and women with patience, forgiveness, and love. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”2 I found promises, like the one given to Joshua—”Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”3—or to Isaiah—”If you stray to the right or the left, you will hear a word that comes from behind you: ‘This is the way; walk in it.’”4 Still, something was missing.
Then Jesus came, and all the puzzle pieces fell into place. He made a way through His sacrifice on the cross for us to be reconciled to God, for our sins to be forgiven and for us to become children of God with an eternal heritage in heaven.
1. John 6:63
2. Jeremiah 31:3 NIV
3. Joshua 1:9 NIV
4. Isaiah 30:21 CEB