My son is always very excited to get his hands on my Bible.
It’s not that we’ve instilled in him a thirst for the word of God. He’s not seeking truth or relationship with God. We haven’t yet explained to him that the ESV is THE hippest Bible to read. He’s not looking at the colorful maps in the back or the red letters in the gospels or my notes and scribbles throughout.
He’s looking for page 683, where it says, in big letters “ISAIAH”.
He’s looking for his name.
We’ve told him that he is named after the prophet Isaiah because the name means “God is Salvation” and we found out about him at a time in our life that we needed to be reminded of the power and hope and salvation of God.
We’ve told him that the prophet Isaiah saw a vision of the almighty God on a heavenly throne surrounded by angels singing His praises and he went on to preach to God’s people.
But our son isn’t looking for Isaiah the prophet; he’s looking for himself in the Bible.
Usually my reaction, watching him eagerly flip through the pages, is to think, that my son is cute. It’s cute to see him excited to read the Bible, cute to see his childish glee over seeing his name in print, cute to see the simple way he’s missing the grand issues of the universe while focusing on the novelty of his own name.
On some level I look on these moments as a parent with some knowing condescension. I know the Bible contains more than my son’s name. It’s cute, but it's ignorance. I’m ok with him being ignorant and petty at this point in his life. He just turned eight. I know that he’s missing things that I hope he’ll find out later.
These moments when Isaiah is looking at my Bible also make me think a little about myself. I love him and he’s cute, even though he’s foolish and essentially selfish, and I wonder if that’s how God sees me.
Isaiah reads the Bible looking for the word “Isaiah”. He doesn’t know any better. He doesn’t know that it contains the revelation of God
I read the Bible looking for myself. But I should know better.
I read my favorite passages over and over looking for themes that matter to me.
I look for verses that I can apply directly to myself, looking for me.
I tend to stick to the passages about God being our Father and adopting us, the passages about walking with him, passages about being known by a loving God, stuff like that.
None of these passages that I focus on are bad theology exactly; none of them are taken far out of context, but I’m [often] not reading the Bible to find God, I’m reading it to find me.
“Oh look! I’m a child of God!!”
“Oh look! I’m heard when I pray!”
“oh look, God still loves me even though I just sinned!”
“Oh look! I’m growing through my trials”
My son reads the Bible to find ‘Isaiah’.
I read the Bible to find myself.
I’d wager that this isn’t unique to me.
Some people read the Bible to find the Apostle Paul.
Some people read the Bible to find John Calvin.
Some people read the Bible to find Adam Smith.
Some people read the Bible to find Gandhi.
Some people read the Bible to find various ancient saints and intellectuals.
I think it’s ok sometimes.
Those goals aren’t inherently bad.
But the Bible is the revelation from God to man.
As Rich Mullins said, “I don’t think you read the Bible to know truth, I think you read it to find God.”
Reading the Bible is a way to find God, but it’s hard to do that if you’re not looking for him, if you’re actively looking for someone else.
I’d like to think that God finds us cute when he sees us doing this, a little foolish and ignorant, but cute.
I'd like to think that he knows we'll grow out of looking for ourselves once we realize there he's greater than us.
I’d like to think that, but maybe that’s just the way I’m reading it.