“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
—Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)
You’ll be happy to know I’ve settled something. After years of feeling guilty if I didn’t finish a book or if I started a new book while still reading another, I’m over it. The guilt, that is. I’ve come to terms with the fact that some books are not worth finishing. The writing is lacking, and I don’t want to spend precious time (and vision strain) locked into a boring trip. Life is too short for bad reading.
Now, on the issue of reading more than one book at a time, my 12-year-old son taught me a lesson. Watching him changed my view of my old policy, which was, I could never start one book until I finished another.
Andy’s got several books going at once. He loves reading, and, in fact—BRAG WARNING—he is the top reader in his grade. (He recently won a Barnes and Noble gift card for his mega-reading points.)
My husband was worried about what the other kids would say when they saw Andy carrying around a high stack of books. This is middle school, you know.
“I don’t care what they think. They already know I’m smart,” he said.
I guess you can talk like that when you’re one of the tallest boys. Never tried it myself.
The other day Andy said to me, “Mom, why don’t we just go eat pizza and talk about books?”
Pinch me. I must be dreaming…
Since he’s been consuming books the way others consume cups of coffee, it made me think about my own reading habits.
Of course, my gold standard is The Holy Bible. And the key to making that come alive is the Spirit of God. No one can truly understand God’s Word without the Spirit giving insight. I know because I’ve heard smart ministers say so. But more than that—I’ve lived it!
When I went to a Christian college, we were required to take classes in both Old and New Testaments. Also, one in Christian living; plus, every other class incorporated God’s Word somehow. So I was immersed.
The problem was…I wasn’t a born-again Christian. I didn’t have the Spirit of God working through the Word. The writing just sat on page. Oh, I memorized and regurgitated, but that’s as far as it went.
I was a cultural Christian, just going through the motions, saying, “I believe in God,” like I was doing Him a favor. The classic mental assent/no heart change played out in my life.
Now, however, I experience the Word as “living and active”(Hebrews 4:12). Always fresh, always relevant, always revealing new truths and illuminating my current situation. Nothing compares to God’s gold standard!
Consequently, if I find myself engaged in reading that is flat and lacking, it stands out in contrast. This includes Christian writing. I’ve seen so many dull blogs and books…it saddens me, because God is not dull! Why should we be?
This is how I define boring: Writing that belabors the obvious; writing that is too theological in nature—with no concrete references—you find yourself zoning out; or writing that moves nowhere and inspires nothing.
I urge you, fellow Christian readers, to observe God’s unwritten (but clearly implied) eleventh commandment: Thou Shall Not Be Boring! God is exciting and so is His Word. Let’s follow suit in our reading and in our lives.
Take a page from Andy’s book (but not literally). If you find yourself being dragged down by dead prose, abandon ship and find life in the vast sea of great Christian writing. And enjoy!
Here is my current reading list in case you need some help. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis, A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman, and Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young.
What’s on your summer reading (or listening) list?
Journeying Along with Great Books,