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Michelle DeRusha: It is not finished
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Michelle DeRusha: It is not finished

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Michelle DeRusha

“I thought you finished the Bible. Why are you reading it again?” he asks.

I’m sprawled the length of the couch, my head propped on a pillow, reading glasses on my nose, the black New Living Translation in my hands.

“Oh honey,” I say, craning to look at my son, Noah, “I’ll never be finished with the Bible. Just because I read it all the way through one time doesn’t mean I’m done. Every single time I read the Bible, I find something new.”

I completed my first cover-to-cover read-through of the Bible, including all the begets and the endless lists of laws, just a few days before Christmas. I was definitely not on the “Bible-in-90-days” plan. More like the Bible in 690 days. It took me far longer than a year to read the Old and New Testaments, and truth be told, Revelation nearly did me in. About halfway through, I said to my husband, “I may not finish. I don’t think I’m going to make it through Revelation.” But I did. I don’t claim to have understood a word of that last book, but I read it. I may need to take a class.

I remember well the day I bought my first Bible. I was mortified to be standing in the “Christian Inspiration” section of Barnes & Noble. I worried I might see someone from work. I wasn’t sure I believed in God, I didn’t consider myself a Christian, and I certainly didn’t want to be considered a Bible-banger.

Flummoxed by the dizzying array of choices, all arranged by their cryptic acronyms – NIV, NLT, RSV, KJV – I finally grabbed The Life Application Bible, simply because it had a feisty red cover and a lot of footnotes, and I figured I would need a lot of explanation. I remember sliding the heavy, hardcover tome across the counter to the cashier, scanning her face for signs of judgment. I recall the relief I felt when she slid the Bible into the plastic bag, the cover hidden from view.

I didn’t crack the binding of my new Bible for several weeks after I bought it. When I did, it was in a class at the church I’d been sporadically attending for a couple of years. The very first night, Pastor Sara asked us to turn to a verse in Exodus. I flipped the onion-skin pages in a panic, until finally the elderly lady sitting next to me whispered that Exodus was “more toward the front.” Turns out I wasn’t even in the right Testament.

That was about five years ago.

Now I own two Bibles, and last week I purchased a third (“The Message” translation). I read my Bible nearly every morning. I take it with me on vacation and read it on the beach. I read it while I’m waiting to pick up the kids from school or soccer practice. I read it on airplanes and in doctors’ offices – gasp, in public, where anyone can see exactly which book I hold in my hands. I don’t care if people assume I’m a Bible-banger because, frankly, they would be right.

There’s a lot in the Bible I still don’t understand -- more than just Revelation. Sometimes, I feel like the Bible raises more questions than it answers. But like I told Noah, although I’ve read it through in its entirety, I’m not nearly finished with the Bible.

Even more important, the Bible isn’t nearly finished with me.

Michelle DeRusha's religion and spirituality column runs in The (402) 411 on the last Saturday of the month. She is a member of Southwood Lutheran Church, a mother and wife, and writes a blog, "Graceful," about finding faith in the everyday.

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