Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.
The office walls are filled with bookshelves. And of course the shelves are filled with books. Organized by topics, one shelf is filled with books on prayer and spirituality, another shelf is devoted to the practice of pilgrimage. Yet another section is filled with commentaries and an entire shelf is devoted to bibles. Bibles which have been passed down from family and friends, bibles gifted during faith milestones, bibles from youth events, bibles with notes and scribbles including questions and doubts.
Do you have a specific space where you keep your bible?
Is there one that’s been read and reread more than others?
Do you remember reading certain verses and knowing that God was speaking to you at that moment through the words?
As I wrote above, I’m not lacking for access to a bible, but even so, I recently purchased a new bible. After attending a bible study I noticed three women reading from the NIV Beautiful Word Coloring Bible. Intrigued, I flipped through the pages and found myself mesmerized by the colors and designs and personal touches that each woman made in her bible. There were highlighted verses in color and bright colors filling the pages. It was clear that these bibles were not only read but provided a creative experience. I was drawn into the pages. I was drawn into God’s word in a new, deeper way.
After much debate about whether I actually needed another bible or not I ordered my own coloring bible. I know myself well enough to know that I won’t be creating a daily discipline of reading and coloring the bible, but it is sitting on my desk next to a box of colored pencils. I also know my perfectionistic tendencies and if I let myself I’d have the book stay uncolored for years for fear of making it look not pretty enough.
One night I opened the bible and turned to Jeremiah. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” Reading those words over and over again I took a colored pencil and began to color. One stroke at a time, red hearts and blue letters, reading and coloring.
Often I’ve read the bible as a means to an end: preparing for a bible study or sermon or reading to comfort a family at the hospital or graveside. The times I’ve sat down to let the words speak to me are far too few. It doesn’t have to be long or expertly planned. God’s word is ready and waiting for us. Calling to us.
When was the last time you sat in God’s word and let the words wash over you? Do you have a practice of coloring or journaling when you read the bible?
In this season of Lent I pray that you experience God’s word in new and creative ways and that you are able to listen for God’s voice.
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. You can read more at her website: http://kimberlyknowlezeller.com or follow her work on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimberlyKnowleZeller/