Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Not taking it for granted

I was privileged to participate in the scripture celebration on October 2nd, where my colleagues at Wycliffe Bible Translators celebrated 17 completed scriptures in languages all around the world!

All of these projects have taken years to complete.  Some have taken lives. Others have required deep sacrifices that are known only by the Lord.

Over the past few weeks, I have had a renewed passion and urgent conviction to prioritize my own Bible reading.

I have decided to read through the Bible chronologically in 365 days or less (for the second time in my life).

The first time I did this was during in the first six months of 2009 - one of the hardest times of my life.  It was my second assignment, my 3rd year in South Asia, and I firmly believe that I only survived because His Word was my daily strength.

I was living in S. Asia and in charge of 6 mother-tongue language projects. They were working on chronological Bible storytelling movements among their own people groups and I was their coach and consultant.

Not married, and living on the orphanage and Bible school compound where the storytellers came to check their work, I had a lot of time to give to getting the work done.  I typically worked 12-14 hours/day, 6 days a week.

I only stopped reviewing stories when the electricity was gone, the generator was out of gas, and my computer battery had completely died.

My mental energy was stretched through communicating in the local language and evaluating key-terms, making sure every word of every sentence of every story was Biblically accurate, while maintaining cultural relevancy.

My physical being was drained through the sweat that never really stopped that whole year.  My physical body also began to deteriorate with essentially no exercise, minimal nutrients in my diet, and constant pressure on the degenerative discs in my back from sitting all day.

My emotional capacity was upheld only by the prayers of family and friends that crossed oceans to reach me.  The personal cards I received were life-giving, to put it mildly.  My closest friends were the 24 men who I worked with, and several of the younger orphan girls who lived in the rooms next to me in the compound.

My spiritual conviction was challenged by the dark nights and frequently visiting (large) bugs that landed on me while I slept under a wet sheet to try and avoid the heat (a "keeping cool" tip I gained from my colleagues in even hotter Central Asia).  The termites that literally ate away at the wooden bed frame under my head were the least of my worries with the bugs that year.

Still, I would not trade any of that for the depth that was reached in my own walk with the Lord.

I also would not give up my temporary earthly sufferings for the eternal outcome of that year.  Men and women like me, but with darker skin and different languages now have access to God's Word through oral Bible stories.

In reality, language learning efforts, the sweat and back pain, the lack of friends, and the bugs were a very small price to pay.

And now, these language communities not only have the stories, but 3 of those original story teams have gone on to translate the rest of the Biblical text.  They are checking the book of Titus as I write this!

While my day-to-day work has changed since that challenging year in South Asia, and my office in Orlando looks and feels different, my national brothers and sisters are still there investing their entire lives to illuminating the Word of God in their heart languages.

What is my response and what does my participation in this work look like?

That is a complex and on-going answer.
But today I will focus on one response that has taken root recently.

I must not take God's Word for granted.

I must not let life pass me by without recognizing the sacrifice that many have made so that I can hear and read The Bible in my own language.

I must not brush off the God of the universe and disrespect the death of His Son by simply not making time to read His Word.

Therefore, I will make knowing His Word a priority.

I will read. I will read His Word. I will read His Word every day.

The top is my New Living Translation that is completely marked up
from when I read it chronologically in 6 months during a tough overseas assignment.
The bottom is my Message version which I plan to read chronologically in 1 year or less, starting this week.
The green paper is every chapter in the Bible divided out chronologically and by day to help me keep track.
And of course, I have a color code and use colored pencils to make it interactive :-)

(Note: If you would like a chronological reading plan, please click here!
You can download a PDF document and start reading through the Bible chronologically!
Let me know if the link doesn't work and I'll send you the document :-)


Joe Armfield said...

Good post! I have always wanted to do a chronological plan, so you have just inspired me to do so.

Elizabeth said...

That's awesome Joe! It's a fresh way to read the whole Story! Let me know if you have trouble downloading the file, or want it send to you via email. Enjoy!

netters said...

This is an awesome story! Thanks so much for sharing!
Makes me a little nervous about going! But I'm glad to know what I'm in for!

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