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Into the Forest I Go: Why I Never Stop Reading the Bible – Lori Altebaumer

Lori Altebaumer

(Photo: Unsplash)
Faith
Aug. 01, 2022

Into the Forest I Go: Why I Never Stop Reading the Bible

Nothing helps one gain perspective on just how little knowledge they really have like walking through an environment or landscape that is unfamiliar to them. Even when it’s something we’ve seen hundreds or thousands of times, if we’re willing to make an honest assessment, we’ll admit what we know is…

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Nothing helps one gain perspective on just how little knowledge they really have like walking through an environment or landscape that is unfamiliar to them. Even when it’s something we’ve seen hundreds or thousands of times, if we’re willing to make an honest assessment, we’ll admit what we know is a fraction of what is there is be discovered.

This is true whether our place is an African jungle, a Florida swamp, a New York city sidewalk, or the coffee shop around the corner.

For me, it’s a mountain destination. My family has been coming to the same mountain forest every summer for years. We’ve hiked the trails too many times to count. And yet, yesterday as we walked along one of the most familiar ones, we were drawn to new details we hadn’t noticed in years past.

To know the forest thoroughly or intimately after only a few visits is impossible. It is like the proverbial onion that must be peeled back a layer at a time.

The same is true of the Word of God. Some people assume if they’ve read it once, they’ve seen all it has to share. But like a forest forever filled with an endless list of new things to discover,

the Bible is not a horizontal journey accomplished with a reading or two. It is a vertical journey taking us both deeper and higher the more time we spend with it.

The forest is a complex ecosystem full of sights, sounds, smells, feels, and tastes (if you’re smart enough and brave enough to choose wisely). To detect every nuance of color and texture in a single visit would simply overwhelm our senses. Instead, our senses will capture the big things… the height of the trees, the sound of stream, and the smell of the pines. But as we continue to return again and again, we notice increasingly intricate details. The more familiar we become with the forest, the more it opens to us in richer detail.

The Bible works for us in the same way. When we are new to our faith, to take in and understand it in its entirety would be overwhelming. Like an infant who needs milk and not steak, we aren’t ready to digest everything God has to say. The frustration some feel when they see themselves as unable to fully grasp everything the Bible has to say, or when they believe they are too far behind where their peers seem to be, is a sad trick of the enemy to keep them from pressing on.

Friend, if you are coming to your Bible open to whatever God has to say to you in your time there, then you are exactly where God wants you to be. You are not behind, and you cannot get ahead of God’s desire for you. When we long for His knowledge and understanding, He is good to fill us with what we need. Not always what we want, but exactly what we need.

God’s communication with us starts out as a simple language, but it always becomes richer and deeper the more grow in Him.

Consider the way adults communicate with children. We first speak to them in the words they can understand. We tell them not to climb on top of the table because it will hurt when they fall off. We don’t yet share with them Newton’s Law of Gravity. The conversations I can have with my two-year-old grandson are not at all like the ones I have with his parents. But they are good and wonderful and exactly where he needs to be for his age and readiness.

If we are willing, every trip we take through the Bible will reveal to us new details. God, in His wisdom, has buried treasures throughout as an invitation to us to never stop searching.

May we never be content to say “I have read the Bible,” but rather may our declaration be “I read the Bible.”

Used with permission of the author, Lori Altebaumer. To read more of Lori’s writing, visit www.lorialtebaumer.com.

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