500 Words with Matthew’s Gospel: Living and Reading Slowly
I'm working on a project in the month of May. The goal is to read through the entire New Testament, the Psalms, and the Proverbs. It requires reading 14-15 chapters of the Bible per day. That doesn't sound like much until you actually start doing it. Some days the chapters are short, other days not so much. Should be fun later in the month when I catch up to Psalm 119.
I've actually been doing this Psalms/Proverbs reading schedule since the beginning of the year–reading 5 Psalms per day and 1 chapter of Proverbs and it is finished in a month. I think I got the idea while reading N.T. Wright's little book The Case for the Psalms, but I could be mis-remembering. I started slowly but my stamina has increased so that last month I added the book of Revelation to the mix. It's a lot of fun having to consistently make the time to do the reading and being disciplined enough to do it each day.
This month (May), as I noted above, I have added the entire New Testament to the mix so that at the end of the month I hope to have developed a new reading habit. My goal is to read through the New Testament every month, with the Psalms and Proverbs, until the end of the year. My hope is that this will make the Psalms clearer and that the Psalms with make the New Testament clearer. After all, Jesus did say that the Psalms are about himself (Luke 24:25-27, 44). N.T. Wright makes a brilliant point:
Here is the challenge for those who take the New Testament seriously: try singing those psalms Christologically, thinking of Jesus as their ultimate fulfillment. See how they sound, what they do, where they take you. (The Case for the Psalms, 110)
Yet there is a temptation. The temptation is to read quickly, or to skim those sections of Scripture that we find boring or that we know really well already. It is tempting to breeze through some of the longer sections of discourse in Matthew's Gospel (they are long) since we already know full well what they mean and what Jesus is going to say. The challenge is to slow down, take time, drink it in and allow a nice even flow of his words to saturate us and fill us.
My doctor told me this the other day. He said: When you eat, eat slowly. Take your time. This will prevent sugar spikes and, consequently, sugar valleys. His point is that there is a harmony in the body when we slow down and take our time–that fluctuating sugar and insulin patterns are neither wise nor healthy (and, as I have learned, actually greatly affect our mood and emotions). I tend to agree with him purely from experience and not necessarily because I have any medical expertise.
It's important, thus, to actually take our time, taste our food, and enjoy it. So too, Scripture.