Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Tiny Bit of Practical Advice

For Bible reading that is.

I've really been struggling with my Bible reading for a while now.  It's not so much that I'm not reading, it's more that when I go to read my Bible, it's just not capturing me.  It's almost been like sitting down with a textbook instead of the living, breathing tool that it is.  My readings have mostly been short because of this, and it's taking me forever to make any progress on my "read my Bible in a certain amount of time" plan.

This past Sunday, God totally revealed to me why I was having troubles with my Bible reading.  During the Sunday morning message, the preacher went to Matthew 17 to make one of his points.  I was following along in my Bible, except that part of what he shared was completely and totally missing from my translation of the Bible. Often times I'll see a meaning that is skewed or changed a bit because of what the translators were doing, but this was really the first time that I saw a piece of scripture completely omitted.  Here, I'll show you. Matthew 17, verses 20 and 21, first in the New King James Version:

"So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” (NKJV)

And now, here those verse are in the NIV version, which is what my regular Bible is:

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (NIV)

I'm not kidding when I say that verse 21 was completely omitted.  Now, on Bible Gateway there is a footnote that the verse in some translations verse 21 is similar to Mark 9:29, but there certainly wasn't in my physical Bible.   It just was a light bulb moment for me right there.  I was stuck in that train of thought for a while during the message, and then, as if to really cement the message, during the Sunday night message something similar happened, though I don't remember the passage from that one. 

Pretty much, I've come to the conclusion that it's time for me to "level up" as a video gamer might say.  I've been reading from the NIV version of the Bible for years.  I've always been comfortable with it, my various study Bibles are of the same translation, and my Story Bible is the NIV version as well.  But I guess my thoughts from Sunday were that it's time to see what another translation has to say- time to see what I can glean out of a different way of translation.  So yesterday, for my Bible reading time, I went and pulled out a Bible that we have that has four different translations side by side and opened it up.  I turned to the book of Ezekiel, and my intention had been to read the first two chapters in each version and see which one spoke to me the most.  I found that I started reading in the King James version and just kept going.  I was enjoying what I was reading again.  Maybe today I'll try one of the other versions.

After struggling with my Bible reading for, oh, probably, honestly and truthfully, a whole year now, it's so refreshing to finally figure out what my trouble was.  I am so thankful that God took me to those verses on Sunday and showed me what He showed me.  It was very eye-opening to me, though I do want to add that if you are currently reading the NIV and are comfortable with it, stick with it.  This is a personal post- it's speaking specifically to me, and showing me that I need to start taking something new into me.  And maybe it's something that you'll remember down the road when you're struggling with your own scripture reading.  Try a different translation- even just for a few days. Scripture translation is not a precise science, so different translations may be better at different stages of your spiritual journey.  I'm discovering that for myself right here and right now.   

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