We see a pastor trying to grapple with this problem. His whole ministry was about helping people understand the word of God through his teaching. What would he do now that the entire Bible had disappeared (except for Esther and Genesis 34)? His little five year old son reassures his daddy that he'll be a good pastor, and lets him know that he still prays to Jesus. The pastor feels lost, but in the Sunday service the shaken congregation's faith seems to come alive, as he leads them in reciting Psalm 23. And they find various ones in their midst who have memorized other psalms.
Muslim scholars gather and decide that the best tentative explanation they can come up with is that Allah has done this to judge the Christians and Jews for wrongs done against Muslims through the centuries to this day. A televangelist to keep the money coming in lets people know that Jesus told him that the devil stole the word, relating that to Jesus' parable of the sower where the devil steals the word before it can take root in people's hearts. The seminary professor in conference with other Christian and Biblical scholars simply doesn't know, but casts doubt on the idea that the devil could do something that God promised would never be done.
I wonder about us here in the United States. We have access to so many different translations, renderings and editions of the Bible. What do we do with this great gift we have? What if all the sudden it disappeared, no more words to read of it anywhere? What would we make of that? And indeed something of the same has happened in countries in which the Bible was prohibited. The accounts show many whose faith became strengthened and to whom God's word became more precious than ever. But why? And how? And what is involved in that?
You are left hanging after this chapter, wondering what might come next. Though some light is beginning to break through as people begin to see the importance of God's word, Scripture, being hidden in their heart, in their memory- establishing their relationship with God and life in the world. And how in that Jesus is central, as a small group led by the pastor sings He is Lord .
John knows people well, a pastor for nearly 30 years in one church and pastoring again. These fictional people come to life and are as real as you and me, as well as the problem they face. I'm left intrigued and wondering just what this means for us who often lazily read our Bibles and find the words at times tedious and all too familiar.
What about us? What does the Bible mean to us? What place does it have in our hearts and lives? How might we be misusing the Bible, or missing the point in our use of it? Or for some of us, why do we neglect the Bible at times? Could there be a good time for setting it aside temporarily? Why or why not?
These and other questions we can ask as we ponder this chapter. It's a time of hurt and pain in the story. But often those times are times of needed change.
What thoughts might you have on this, or possible explanations to the "unexplainable"?
Next week: chapter 3, "Unstoppable"