I'll just say it: I suck at reading The Bible.
With its numerous references to Babylonian rulers and countless references to the gathering and consumption of wheat, it's easy for me to drift off. As I skim the passages, I find my mind drifting to other things. This is not something I'm especially proud about, but it's a fact.
So, last Monday, my friend Michele gave me The Everyday Life Bible, featuring notes and commentary by Joyce Meyer. Just cause. She's thoughtful like that. This Bible is neat because it's new and clean, which is always exciting. Additionally, Meyer gives all sorts of explanations and notes that explain the passages in ways that make sense to me.
For example, I was flipping through it, and I turned to Isaiah 4:26. On my own, I would read Isaiah about, um, never. It's poetic and it's Old Testament--two things that make my brain hurt. But, today, I read this:
"This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth; and this is His hand that is stretched out over all the nations. For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who can annul it? And His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?"
By itself, I thought, "Hmm, I like the idea that his hand is stretched out, protective. I like that nobody can annul (or remove) His hand." And that's about as far as I got.
Then, I read the commentary, and this statement really hit me, "We must choose to love on purpose, give on purpose, and stay at peace on purpose. If we want to have peace, we must purpose to have peace, because the devil will try to steal it."
She's saying that we've all been given purposes for specific reasons. God is a god of purpose. Additionally, we need to make decisions "on purpose," meaning we must choose to love, even when it is hard, give even when it is easier not to, and we must seek peace, even when we are tempted to give in to worry.
I've been feeling a lot of anxiety recently. For the last four days, I've had nightmares where one or both of the boys are in danger, or Paul has deserted me. I wake up with my heart thumping in my chest, near tears. Nothing has happened that would lead me to take such leaps, but make no mistake: these fears are stealing my joy.
And, today. I'm changing Joel, and I notice that one of his testicles is larger than the other. First, I think: hernia. Then, I think: testicular cancer. Then I think of all sorts of horrors, and I can hardly breathe.
This is not the way God wants me to live. His purpose for me does not involve a life of fear. And, I must choose on purpose to seek peace--through more prayer, more meditation, and yes, more study of scripture.
I can do better, and my better starts today.