hen I was in grade school, I hated typing. I hated it because I was bad at it. I was so bad at it, in fact, that my mom talked my teacher into letting take home one of the God-forsaken machines that we were learning on, a small keyboard with an even smaller screen that would constantly spit out ridiculous words and phrases at you. The cat sat with the bat. Mat cat rat bat. The lass went last. Over and over, ad nauseum.
I practiced often, not by choice but my force. Eventually, I improved. Fast forward to middle-school, I was taking a required technology course, and I met my dear friend Typing again. This time, I was more equipped. And this time I was on an actual computer. And this time the software was a game. But this time, the keyboard was draped with a bright orange plastic cover. I now had to learn to type blind. I learned a bit quicker this time, though.
I struggled with reading, too. I didn't enjoy it. It wasn't until fifth grade when I suddenly caught my breath and began to read insatiably. I was given smaller books, would earn a reward when I finished one, and soon enough finishing books (and doing so quickly) became addicting to me. I struggled in both areas but got better. Then I started taking journalism courses into High School. Now, years later, I can type at a steady speed, spitting out words without looking at the keyboard that I'm using. I can read several books a month if I so choose. And only now, can I realize the privilege and importance of it. I would have quit the reading/writing/typing portion of my education had someone allowed me to do so. Years later, I'm so glad I was forced to stay the course.
We are a literary culture; words are of the utmost importance to our formation.We learn and we teach through words, and often those words are in written form. We read street signs when navigating a car. We read recipes to cook our food (or read menus to have others make us food). We grocery shop by reading, discerning what ingredients or products are best for us by the labels. This isn't something that has always been so accessible and easy, though. It's new. With the rise of accessible education, we've become a literate society, a culture drive. Prior to this, reading was a luxury and the opportunity to read was not afforded to all unilaterally. This especially impacts the way that the church functioned.
On Sundays, you likely have a Bible in your lap, in the pew in front of you, and perhaps in your pocket on your phone. We read along with our Pastors who preach from their pulpits. When we sing songs, we do so by reading words on screens or in books. We're given bulletins that disseminate information to us through words. We're inundated. But this type of availibility has not always been so. From the earliest Jews and Christians until just a couple hundred years ago, laymen relied on the public reading of Scripture, or even art illustrating Scripture to know and grow in a relationship with God. Public reading and listening to the Word of God was integral to knowing Scripture; it was the only way it could be communicated to those who did not have the fortune of education. Likewise, when you see church art depicted in elaborate steeples, stained glass, or murals it was to communicate to those who could not read. Words are a privilege. Reading is an insurmountable blessing.
We are not a society that necessarily acts like this is a privilege, though. Despite the incredible access and availability we have to information, we are creatures of habit who settle for social media feeds. Not only do we tend to forget the privilege of reading, I think we forget it's importance, too. As a society, we fail to read books in general, much less our Bibles. Many of us haven't read all of the "classics." Many of us don't read our local newspapers. This is not to say that life has required reading, but I feel that reading does a sanctifying work within us; as we read and are exposed to things that challenge us, we are caused to grow, learn, and be shaped. We cannot allowed ourselves to settle for the level of reading that is required of day-to-day life–street signs, menus, recipes.
As I've already stated, reading serves an important purpose: to instruct. As believers, we ought to feel the weight of this. If we aren't attentive toward reading the Word of God, we won't grow. We won't know God more or better. We won't have the capacity to be obedient. Likewise, if it weren't for the faithfulness of the Biblical authors, we would have very little to glean. If it weren't for the faithfulness of Moses, we'd not know of God's continued providence and deliverance for Israel from the land of Egypt. If it weren't for the prophets, we wouldn't know the Lord's messages to His people. If it weren't for Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John we wouldn't have the accounts of Christ's ministry, death, and resurrection.
Because reading is such a blessing, the importance of Scripture in our day-to-day life in inferred. We read to absorb the Word of God, knowing that what is in Scripture will sustain our hope in the Lord. We read knowing that the Bible is breathed out by God, totally inspired by His Spirit. We don't read just to gain knowledge or understanding, we reading to gain life and vitality. We have great reason to be thankful for words. We have even greater reason to be pick up and read.
Sarah Morrison is a staff writer for The Daily Grace Co.