At the library

I love libraries. It has long been this way. It’s been like this for almost 50 years now.

I fell in love with books while in elementary school in Castana, Iowa. The school library contained a set of the Hardy Boys detective series. I checked out a copy, and was soon engrossed in the adventures of Joe and Frank Hardy; so much so that I had a bittersweet feeling when I picked up the last volume in the series.

Over the past five decades, I’ve spent countless hours at libraries. Some of this was by necessity. Let’s just say it took me awhile to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up; as a result, I’ve completed college/seminary three times. Often though, I was at the library by choice. You could say that the library is my home away from home. This makes Alaine a little nervous. Why is this? She is somewhat concerned where we might reside when I retire. This is because you can literally live at the library in St. Paul—the Rondo branch has apartments above the main floor.

Sometimes I am in and out of a library in a matter of minutes. I know what book I’m looking for, and where to find it. There are other times when I like to wander in the shelves and see what catches my eye.

Why I am sharing this personal tidbit with you? It’s because, in recent years, I’ve started to think about the Bible as a library. This started five or six years ago when I was teaching confirmation class.

Let’s face it, the Bible is a book big. That is actually an understatement. The Bible is an enormous book. Most versions have more than a thousand pages. (You can check this out for yourself. Look at your Bible at home and see exactly how many pages long it is.)

Given the enormous length of the Bible, it can be downright intimidating to read. Which is why I like to think about the Bible as being God’s library. The Bible contains the books that God authored, using the minds and pens of His people, inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Bible is about life with God.

While the Bible is one book about a single subject—life with God—it also contains 66 different volumes. Each of the 66 books in God’s library has its own distinct voice, content, and specific purpose.

Let me be personal once again. One of the biggest spiritual turning points in my life took place 30 years ago. With the aid of Daily Walk, a devotional magazine, I became a daily reader of Scripture. Daily Walk not only helped me to become a daily Bible reader, it made me into a cover-to-cover reader, as well. In one year, Daily Walk took me from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22. I can’t stress what a difference this made in my life with God.

Each month, Daily Walk would arrive in the mail. Over time, a thought came to mind. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a Lutheran version? A short while later I learned that there was. Concordia Publishing House launched Today’s Light, a daily, cover-to-cover, Bible reading magazine written by Jane Fryar. Alaine and I used Today’s Light for more than twenty years earlier in our marriage.

This Sunday morning, in our Life with God class, we will be pulling out one of my very favorite books from God's library: Ecclesiastes. One of the big questions that we'll talk about is: why is this book even in the Bible.

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