Sabbath Evenings – The Remote
This past week I watched a movie stretched over a couple of days. Usually I watch a movie in one sitting – but not this time due to a lack of time. I watched “Girl, Interrupted” [A great counselor-type movie]. The TV remote helped the bit-by-bit viewing go a little smoother. I could hit the pause or play button anytime and my movie picked up right from where I left off. Re-wind positioned me to take in a powerful scene or hear one of those memorable and salient lines from the script again. I liked that – a lot! I used fast-forward for squeamish or difficult scenes [although I am disciplining myself to stay with these sorts of scenes]. All in all, I would say the remote enhanced my movie watching experience and I think I would do it again.
Every two years I read through the Bible [this is only my second time, so don’t be impressed]. Thinking ahead for the 2010-2012 reading of those 66 books, I wanted to approach the biblical narrative differently. In the past, with the grandest of intentions to read through the Bible, I routinely ended up pressing play at Genesis 1.1 only to pause – somewhere around Leviticus and fast-forward to the the Gospels. This time I would set about my daily reading as an active player in the story. I wanted to be involved – to be engaged with the characters and the stories. I also wanted my faith to be impacted – my senses stirred. Most of all, I knew I would be following God around as he followed people around – watching and knowing Him better – internalizing the whole story as He intended. Taking it all in – seeing my need for a Savior – a Redeemer. Play, pause, fast-forward, rewind – I wanted to press them all.
It’s mid-February now. I am deep into Exodus. While reading Genesis last month, I launched my internal “remote.” I hit play during the episode of Jacob and marveled at his life of deception, brokenness and redemption. I hit rewind during the chain of events in Abraham’s story. Did his wife Sarah really mistreat and abuse her maidservant Hagar? I just had to go back and get that scene again. I wanted to write down those words Hagar spoke about God when she was in the grip of agonizing betrayal and rejection: “He is the God who sees me.“(Genesis 16.13a) And fast forward? I dare say “lists” of people tempted me to skip to the good parts. In Genesis 19, I wanted to press the fast-forward when Lot offered his daughters to those ravaging thugs in Sodom and Gomorrah. I am now in the wilderness epic of the Exodus and the Israelites. My remote is running hot these days! So many more scenes I could jabber on about, but my favorite part, so far, has been intently watching my God through all of these scenes – I see His unfailing love along with justice, and mercy [oh my, the mercy]. I have observed His creative genius and purposes for a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29.10) for His people – people matter to God!
When reading the Bible, what’s your favorite re-wind? Do you fast-forward through the squeamish or difficult scenes? Do you ever just hit play without engaging the story, or simply switch-off the remote altogether? Where do you press pause and take time to reflect – and then return and hit play again?