The Christmas I turned twelve years old I received a very special gift from my Grandma Lola. She gave me a grown-up size Bible with a concordance and maps. She had also given me a new children’s Bible for my eighth birthday, but I was thrilled to have this new Bible as an almost-teenager.
A few months before that Christmas, I had begun to realize that God had planted a deeper hunger for himself within me but I didn’t know how to learn to know him more. Growing up in a Christian home had taught me that I needed to read his words to me every day, but to understand them was a challenge.
I remember opening that new Bible, running my fingers down the fresh pages as I so carefully turned them, and looking at all the different books inside waiting to be discovered. Eventually, I decided to just start reading in Genesis. As my teen years went by, I would get bogged down around Ecclesiastes and never really get into the minor and major prophets. They just didn’t make sense to me. And so, the next January I would just begin again with Genesis, or skip to the Gospels but never get past the book of Acts.
Longing for God
That hunger for God never disappeared and so, as I grew into my late twenties and early thirties, I was still searching for how to really read and understand. The Holy Spirit was very gracious to teach me day by day, but I had a desire to better understand how all the different stories fit together to make sense.
One Sunday, I came upon a chronological reading plan for the Bible in the reference section at our church. I had never heard of reading the story of the Bible in the order in which it occurred. I determined, as I looked through the plan, that I was not going to give up this time, even if it took me five years to read from Genesis to Revelation.
I began to read, again beginning in Genesis, but with the Book of Job tucked into where it actually happened. I felt some of that hunger begin to turn into excitement and more understanding and the desire to study those words from God even more deeply began go grow within me.
Learning God’s Big Story
I had been challenged around that same time to consider whether I really desired to know God, or did I just want to know more about God. As I began to understand more of the bigger story of God’s plan for the world, I began to look for him among the pages and to read those words as coming right from him. To believe that God is “who he says he is” led me to desire to have more of his leading in my life and more of his truth ingrained in my heart.
I learned about God’s plan for the world and his promise, right from Genesis 3, that he would send the Deliverer to rescue what had been destroyed when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. This promise is woven throughout the Big Story and affirmed again even after Jesus’ return to heaven following his death and resurrection, as told to us in the Gospels.
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15 ESV)
I learned to know God and his character more as I understood better how he led through the generations from Adam to Noah to Abraham to Joseph, to Moses to Joshua, to the obedience and disobedience of the kings and prophets, to the Gospels where Jesus did come as the Deliverer and so fulfilled that good news, the gospel.
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13 ESV)
I learned that to know and understand that the foundation of God’s Big Story gives me the words to share the truth of the gospel with those who sometimes question God about his plans and purposes.
It has been many years since I received that special Bible. God has grown my love for him and his words to me in ways that cannot really be put into words. I have learned to surrender and trust in his plan as it relates to what was, what is, and what will be.
I don’t know where your understanding of God’s Big Story is right now, I’d love to encourage you to consider just reading God’s words to you every day. Don’t give up. Just read the next few verses.
Try a chronological reading plan if you desire something new. Try reading from a new version every so often. I find this hard to do, as I love to read the words over and over until they are almost memorized. A variety of different trusted versions may help your interest and love to grow.
Loving God’s Big Story
My love for God and his words has changed as I have been challenged to consider how the Big Story fits together. I find myself trusting more in God’s sovereignty than I ever have before, because I can see some, but not all, of the bigger picture.
God bless you as you read, study and find the pieces of the puzzle falling into place over the days, months, and years ahead. There is always more to learn and understand. “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:13 ESV)
He’s ready to teach you; come meet with him!
Colleen van Nieuwkerk, wife to Dick and Mom and Grandma to six and ten, is passionate about women faithfully following God. It is her privilege to lead Heart2Heart, a discipleship ministry at her home church in Alberta, Canada. She’s also passionate about Chai tea lattes and scrap-booking. Connect with her on Instagram @mrsvan55.