Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: one can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
–Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass
This is how I read Scripture. I’ll consume it in small portions, sometimes in a structured setting (at church) and sometimes on my own. There are moments when certain passages, even if I’ve read them before, will leap off the page and I am inclined to believe the words are naturally speaking to me.
Once I read in Isaiah 43 “you are precious in my sight and I love you,” and it felt like a love letter placed in my hands. Of course I am the loved one. Of course I am the precious one. I printed up the words and carried them around for days.
Not everyone, I’m learning, has this comfort level with the Bible. I understand. The text as a whole is daunting and intimidating. So many people, it seems to me, require a well-equipped leader to interpret or provide context before they are willing to delve in. And even then they are like a group of hikers hunkered behind a person tricked out in a headlamp helmet, walking poles, safety gear and trailblazing tools. I can see how such guidance is useful but I wonder—is it always necessary? Why not take a turn at the front? Why not walk a little on your own?
Recently I discussed this with a friend who also happens to be a seminary graduate. I told him I didn’t get why it was so hard to engage with Scripture.
He said, with a smile, “Yes, but not every one has your imagination.”
I was stunned. Does faith require imagination? Do I have some sort of “in” because I’m a writer? Is it possible I can more easily accept God’s vision of the world because of the worlds I create on paper every day?