I LOVE to read. I’ve loved to read since I was a kid. I don’t really remember much about learning to read it just seems like I always have. I do remember looking at my parent’s newspaper and picking out words that I could read when I was pretty little. I also remember my Mom taking me to the library when we went to town. I was only in elementary school when she would drop me off and say “I’ll be back in 2 hours.” I loved it. I would return my books from the week before and explore the shelves for 3 more books to take home. That was the only problem. Three books for a whole week was not enough. I would always get done with all of them before it was time to come back. Honestly, I don’t really remember seeing my parents read much until I was older but there were always books, magazines and the local newspaper around so they must have been reading sometime!
My love of reading has continued throughout my life. There are books all over our house and I still love the library even though I don’t make a weekly visit anymore. Words are AMAZING. They carry with them the ability to paint pictures and create feelings. Through words on a page of a book I’ve gone places I will probably never go in this lifetime. I read a blog by friends living in Africa right now and I’m reading about a boy who grew up in Poland during World War 2. Sometimes their words carry me far away from Iowa. Sometimes I can almost hear and smell what they are describing.
My love of reading has been encouraged over the years through reading the Bible. It is a fascinating book. I’ve thought so since I was a kid. I will admit sometimes the things I learned and believed set me apart from some of the kids around me. Sometimes that was hard. Most of the time however, it just opened me up to a larger world. I went to school in a very small town and it was easy to live thinking our little section of Iowa was the whole world. My family was a common middle-class farming family. We took a driving family vacation a few times but otherwise the annual trip to the city to sell cattle and get new school clothes was about the only traveling I remember. Life was good, pretty routine day to day and now as I look back, safe. My family was pretty even-keeled. We got up in the morning, went to school or work, returned home for supper, watched a little TV after supper and went to bed. School programs and sports, my parent’s pinochle club and church were about the only things added into our days. So maybe you can imagine my excitement when I discovered this passage of the Bible:
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” Ephesians 3: 14-21 (NKJV). (emphasis mine)
Did you see all of those AMAZING words? No? Read it again, slowly, maybe even out loud. Mrs. Mardesen, my high school composition teacher would have been ripping those long sentences apart I’m sure but I love them. There are so many descriptive words and they build on each other. I could go on about this for days. I think I’ve read this passage in every translation possible. I have things written in each of my Bibles (yes, I have more than one) to remind me what some of these words really mean. The Bible wasn’t originally written in English so going back to the original language (Greek or Hebrew) often sheds new light on the passage. Just for an example look at the passage again. I italicized “all the fullness of God”. Did you find it? The word “fullness” is pleroma (play-row-mah) Full number, full complement, full measure, copiousness, plenitude that which has been completed. The word describes a ship with a full cargo and crew, and a town with no empty houses. Pleroma strongly emphasizes fullness and completion. (Strong’s Concordance #4138) Now put some of those words into the context of the passage which is Paul praying for believers in Christ. I am a believer in Christ so I apply this scripture to myself. So He is praying that I may be filled (notice filled, not just a taste of something, filled) with all, again, not just a bit, the fullness – the copiousness, full, nothing empty, no missing parts, of God. Why would that matter? Keep reading. He (God) is able to do…wait for it…exceedingly, abundantly, above, ALL that we ask OR even think…. God is able to do not just exceedingly (which is a lot), not just abundantly, not just above all that we ask. He is able to do, insert all of those words again, ALL that we think! Now that’s a lot of ability. That God loves me. He loves you too. Read the passage again. Maybe it’s time for you to get out your own Bible discover anew who God is in your life.