I sat on the edge of my seat, eyes wide…
…as a listened to the woman in front of me tell the story of the Bible from beginning to end. She started with Adam and Eve in the garden, Noah and the flood, then moved on to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Joseph, Judah, Moses, Joshua, Samson, Ruth, David, Elijah, Daniel, Esther, Nehemiah, Jesus, Peter, Paul, John and then finished with the prophecies about the end of time.
She was the women’s ministry director of our church. You would expect women’s ministry directors to know and be able to tell such things, right? I sat there listening to her, mesmerized. The names and the stories were familiar to me, but I had never, in my entire life, ever heard it from beginning to end in one sitting. And if women’s ministry directors should know such things, Pastor’s wives should definitely know such things, right?
I had grown up in a Christian family and gone to church every Sunday of my entire 36-year life. I never missed Sunday school or Wednesday nights. As a teenager, I was a Christian youth camp counselor, and also a back-yard-Bible club teacher. I taught Sunday School. After high school, I went to Bible college and earned a major in Elementary Education and a double minor in Bible and music. I could tell you the doctrines of sin, Satan, and salvation. I could explain pre-millenialism and post-millennialism. I could explain hermeneutics and write an inductive Bible study. I understood the controversy between Calvinism and Armenianism.
But I couldn’t tell you the story of the Bible.
After the initial amazement and “ah ha! This is how it all fits together!” I felt down-right embarrassed. My embarrassment eased up a bit when the women’s ministry director, with graying hair, stumbled over a few names as she conveyed the story. She was a Bible school grad and she wasn’t totally smooth at telling the story, either. Relief.
But I was the pastor’s wife. My husband had a Ph.D. in Biblical studies. I knew there was no way I could get up there and tell the whole story of the Bible from beginning to the end. I didn’t even know how it all fit together! The fact that she only got tripped up on a couple of names was far superior to what I could do.
That evening, my chase began.
An avid reader of the Bible, lover of the Bible, and studier of the Bible… that night in 2011, I became a chaser of the story of the Bible.
Now, eight years later, I am absolutely convinced that every Christian needs to know this story and be able to tell it from memory.
1. It helps you know where to put your puzzle pieces.
If you are a Christian, you know something about the Bible. Maybe you know a little. Maybe you know a lot. Most of us Christians know scripture in a million puzzle pieces of stories and verses, but very few of us are able to put all of the puzzle piece stories and verses in order to piece together the entire picture. Iva May, the author of that very first chronological Bible study I took in 2011, said something that I’ve never forgotten. She said that knowing the chronological story of the Bible is like having all of the edge pieces of a puzzle put together. Once you have the outside of the puzzle complete, it is much easier to put all the other pieces where they go. Especially if you are looking at the cover of the box, which has the final picture put together.
2. It helps you know and understand the puzzle pieces like never before.
Once I knew and understood the framework of the Bible, I thought I was ready to dig in head-first into reading the entire Bible chronologically. Yes, I had read the entire Bible before, but frankly, there were parts of it where I was just plain lost while trying to read.
I pulled out a book “30 Days to Understanding the Bible” by Max Anders. Max and his wife sat a couple of rows behind me in church every week when I was a teenager. I trusted him. He and his wife even attended my wedding with their newly adopted daughter from Russia. My parents had read his book and I remember them being fascinated. As a teenager, I just didn’t have the perseverance to complete it. Max is a brilliant seminary professor and organizes the Bible in an amazing way. I love charts, lists and graphs, as you will come to find out. But I am an elementary teacher. I love visuals, colors and simple things.
This led me to have a conversation with a very dear friend. Sharing my heart and vision ignited a flame within her very gifted mind. At my dining room table, I passionately shared with her my vision and desire of every Christian coming to know, understand and actually be able to tell the story of the Bible. Using Max Ander’s framework of “30 Days to Understanding the Bible” and utilizing many ideas presented by Iva May, my friend developed a class that led women through an amazing 13 week study in which the attendees would go through Anders’ 13 Era’s of the Bible, and using a map, actually be able to tell the story of the Bible by the end of the study.
After helping teach the class, I was ready for more. I was ready to dig in to the real thing. Cover to cover. In one year.
“Reading God’s Story: A Chronological Daily Bible” by George H. Guthrie, another seminary professor, has become my dearest and most loved source of understanding the story of the Bible in chronological order. Given the framework of the simple story, I now have an amazing sense of order and understanding to the deeper and more complicated parts of the Bible. Knowing the framework of the Bible helps me make sense of the entire thing. Every word. The whole Bible makes sense and it all fits into a story that is connected. Thousands of years, 40 authors… One story.
It all fits.
And every single word has meaning.
3. It helps you communicate with those who don’t know what to do with their puzzle pieces.
Once you know the story, you just feel like you are going to freak out if you don’t share it. Well, at least that’s how I felt. Every day I would read and learn and feel like nothing else on earth mattered but to share what I was learning.
And who better to share it than with my four amazing children?
Learning to summarize the basic story of the Bible paved the road for me to read the larger portions of scripture and summarize the daily readings to the point of being able to tell that day’s story. For an entire year.
With a 30 minute daily drive to school and a captive audience, what better time to retell the story?
People everywhere have bits and pieces of Biblical knowledge and absolutely no biblical framework. They don’t know what to do with the knowledge they have and the rest of scripture just doesn’t make sense to them.
Whether you are communicating with your kids, your neighbors, or people at church, you need to know the story of the Bible. You need to know where the pieces of your biblical knowledge puzzle fit. You need to be able to share what you know, so that you can help those around your make sense of their own puzzle pieces.
Where do I start?
Take the Challenge… The Chase Challenge!
Where are you in your chase? Have you started studying the Bible chronologically? I would love to hear from you!