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The Book That Reads Us

Books and reading have been around for a long time. Three thousand years ago, at the end of a long investigation into the meaning of life, a study-weary Solomon complained, Of making many books there is no end" (Ecclesiastes 1912). He went on to advise those reading his book that many of the books on the shelf at the time weren't orth the time or effort required to read them — "much study is wearisome to the flesh" (vs 12b). One man eported, "I'm trying to read a book on how to relax, but I keep falling asleep!" Books continue to be pop lar. Go to a major retail bookstore and take a glance — tens of thousands of books categorized under s ores of sections and subjects. Of course, in this modern digital age you can download your favorite read to a Kendal or Nook or some other eReader device. How many books are there? UNESCO (The Unite' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) monitors the number and type of books published per country per year. According to them, 172,000 new titles were published in the U. S. alone in 2006. If somehow you ad read all those books you would have read more than 471 books per day. At an average cost of $10 per book (conservative), you would have paid out $1,719,150! An internet site @ http://www.worldometers.com info/books reports so far this year there have 678,788 new titles published (as of Thursday 7/2/12). Oops, add cur more (678,892) since I began writing that last sentence! For good and for ill, lots of books are being written, and many of them are being read.

W. H. Auden said, " A real book is not one that we read, but one that reads us." I think we know what he means. A skillful author knows human nature and is able, from an endless list of available words, to choose and string together just the right ones so that sentences and paragraphs not only get us into them, hut also penetrate our heart minds, lodging themselves inside us and calling us to action. By that standard (and so many hearts) no book is as real as the Bible! It is quintessentially the Book that reads us! The inspired writer of Hebrews 4:12 urges us to understand that God's Word reads every part of our lives, even things we labor so hard to keep covered and hidden from other people — For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account." Full-body scans and imaging are common in the medical world today. Thanks to marvelous advances in technology, doctors and other medical experts routinely detect lumps and blockages and other abnormalities which, left hidden, undetected and untreated, would become dangerous and deadly. We might be unsettled by what a scan reveals, but we understand that the scan may potentially save our lives if carefully read, correctly analyzed, and followed by appropriate action. In a similar way, the Bible reads our lives, not to hurt and take away life and happiness and health, but to insure that we hold onto them by taking corrective action (2 Timothy 3:15-17). The Bible reads us. Whether that thrills or chills depends on your relationship with its Author. What is God reading as He looks into your heart? Think about it.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ