We’re already done with Week One of reading the 40-Day Bible Challenge of reading or listening to the entire Bible as an audiobook (free copies here!) during Lent. It’s going fast. We never expected nearly 2000 people to download the free 40-Day Reading Guide in the first 24 hours. You can grab your copy by clicking here.

And we never expected to hear from so many of you—churches printing the guide in their bulletins to encourage congregations to join, men and women inviting their friends to join in the reading and share what they’re learning in small groups and online, and individuals like a sweet man who wrote me and said he grew up Catholic and has never read the entire Bible but he’s determined to do it for Lent this year. Whoohoo!

Reading the Bible in 40 days provides a much different perspective than a slow read. What I’m finding is that reading quickly in large chunks causes me to see and reflect on details I’d otherwise miss.

My hope and prayer is that during the Lenten season, the timeless truths of Scripture will come alive in a whole new way. That the beauty of God’s word will captivate us anew. That glimpses of God’s character will leave us breathless. That in a book or a passage or a single word, we will find ourselves wonderstruck.

A few things I’ve been noshing on this week:

  1. The way books of the Bible begin and end. I love the way the Message Bible records in Genesis 1, “First this, God.” Genesis 50 concludes with the death of Joseph, but Exodus 1 picks back up the story without missing a beat. In Pursuing God’s Love: Stories from the Book of Genesis DVD study, I noted that Exodus begins with the word “And” suggesting these two books are so intimately tied together—a linking of the great big story of God. But now I’m noticing more details like how Exodus concludes with God’s presence—God dwelling among the people once they are set free.
  2. I love the meaning of names—they’re wrapped in significance and provide so much insight. The Message Bible provides some great translations into the meanings of names, but I find myself wanting to know the meaning of every name. I wish there was a Bible that provided the meaning next to every name in the Scripture. Does anyone know of one? I can always type them into Google but phew! that’s a lot of names.
  3. Reading at this pace tends to reveal one main idea or theme or word or image. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience. On the first day’s reading, the word that emerged was life—the idea that God is the source of all life, the abundant life, our every breath.

As I continued reading the word blessing kept popping off the page. God is the source of all blessing and blesses abundantly. God blessed humanity (Genesis 1), the seventh day (Genesis 2) Noah (Genesis 9), Abraham (Genesis 12), Ishmael (Genesis 17), Isaac (Genesis 26), Laban (Genesis 30), Jacob (Genesis 32) and the list rolls on through Exodus and into Leviticus. One fellow Lenten sojourner, Philip Huber, noticed this, too, and commented on it. Love that!  

But as I’ve read for the last few days the phrase I can’t get out of my mind traces back to Genesis 8. After the rain finally quit from the great flood, the Bible says, “Inch by inch the water lowered.”

Something about “inch by inch” popped off the page for me.

I began noodling on how God often seems to move inch by inch. Not insta-, not lightning speed, but inch by inch throughout history.

God is not efficient in the way we tend to think about efficiency. We tell ourselves that the quickest way from point A to point B is a straight line. And those who win the race are the fastest. And efficiency is all about “get r’ done” to use a phrase from one of my favorite comedians.

If those are the measures of efficiency, God seems wildly inefficient.

The God who created time yet lives outside of time seems to like to take His time. [Tweet this]

Inch by inch the water lowered. Inch by inch Abraham’s faith became strong. Inch by inch Jacob became Israel. Inch by inch Joseph rose to power over all of Egypt. Inch by inch Pharaoh’s heart softened to let God’s people go free. Inch by inch the Israelites made their way through the desert toward the Promised Land. Inch by inch a dwelling was built for God. Inch by inch God gave the people instructions regarding everything from offerings to festivals to infections to how to live with each other.

Inch by inch.

Yet how many days do I look at God and ask, Why aren’t things moving forward faster? Why is the answer to this prayer taking so long? Why aren’t you responding on my timetable 

All too often I forget that God often chooses to move inch by inch. [Tweet this] Inch by inch people move toward making a commitment to faith. Inch by inch marriages are restored. Inch by inch communities are transformed. Inch by inch we grow more Christ-like. When I remember this foundational truth, I’m better equipped to begin moving alongside of God with greater joy and anticipation and celebration of all God is doing.

Inch by inch.

What image or word or phrase or idea has been popping off the page as you read the Bible this Lent? [Tweet this] What is the Holy Spirit echoing to you? [Tweet this]

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