By Daylon Welliver

When I sit down to read a good novel, I find myself engrossed. The minutes become hours as the story carries me along a tide of events. Interesting people, some noble and heroic despite their faults, some apathetic or fearful or greedy or violent, color the story with interest and tension. I wonder what will become of the characters I like as I become, at least for a time, invested in their imagined life.

What will the impact be on their lives? How will the story turn out? Sometimes, with very good writers, as I ponder the story and how the characters grow, I come away with thoughts about my own life. Would I have made those choices?

Yet, often, when I turn to Scripture, I don’t approach it that way. Sometimes I think of it like my vitamins. I need to take in something to keep me spiritually healthy. Or I follow a routine, just like the way I always start my coffee before I get out my cereal.

Well-meaning Christians, some of them who have written books or lead big ministries, refer to the Bible as an instruction manual. Admittedly there is an element of that. We can certainly learn principles and wise rules that make life better-lived.

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“When reading history, imagine the grand sweep of events, the drama as the story unfolds. … Look for the threads of God’s work in it.”

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But if that is our only view of the Bible, how many of us are excited to read an instruction manual? When I bought a new lawn mower, I only read what I thought was barely essential to learn how to operate it. If I thought I could figure it out on my own, I skipped over parts. I didn’t pour over it, gleaning every word I could. I didn’t get sad when it was over. No wonder many of us struggle reading the Bible.

Instead, view the Bible as the compelling story it is. When reading history, imagine the grand sweep of events, the drama as the story unfolds. Trace the causes of the conflicts and how they were resolved. Look for the threads of God’s work in it. When you read a Psalm, remember that it’s poetry. Read the Epistles as personal letters from a real person concerned about people in a church he dearly loved.

Choosing “The Chosen”

Here’s one suggestion — start watching “The Chosen,” a series about the life of Jesus and His followers. As you watch an episode, go into the Gospels and find the section dealing with that part of the story. “The Chosen” uses artistic license to fill in parts the Gospels don’t record, so I won’t urge you to accept those portions as gospel truth.

It is just a show. As the Bereans did, always examine the Scriptures for yourself. However, the show presents the people as not just words on a page, but as real people with real stories. Don’t miss that vibrant reality.

Put yourself in the story and see where Jesus takes you. The story of your life might just change on the journey.

Prayer

“Take away, O Lord, the veil of my heart while I read the Scriptures. Blessed art Thou, O Lord: O teach me thy statutes! Give me a word, O Word of the Father: touch my heart: enlighten the understandings of my heart: open my lips and fill them with Thy praise.” – Bishop Lancelot Andrewes (1555–1626)

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Daylon Welliver is a consecrated deacon serving the Mooresville Free Methodist Church and a deputy attorney general for the state of Indiana. He is an alumnus of Greenville University and Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law. He is also the proud son of Dotsey Welliver, author and past regular contributor to Light + Life.

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