Connecting with God in the New Year

A work colleague was talking about his grandfather, who has dementia. Even though his grandfather knows things, he forgets that he knows them. Recently he stopped my friend in his tracks by asking, “What’s the Internet?”

The point is to connect as intimately with God as you do with your computer or mobile device for just a few of the hours that many of us spend online.

My coworker said to us, “How do you explain what the Internet is for someone who has no idea?” He said he stumbled around, saying people get on it for information, to find out things. Well, how do you explain getting “on it”? Comparing it to a phone combined with a library or constantly updated encyclopedia might come close if someone truly has no idea.

My husband and I have our home computer/Internet connection through our cell phone service, and hook up through a device called a MiFi (not Wi-Fi). When I first open up the program on my computer, it tells me I’m disconnected. When I click on the program, it starts connecting, then tells me I’m connected, when I sign off it tells me I’m disconnecting. Commonly in the early morning, I’m connected for three hours before I sign off and go to work, sometimes I leave it on all day if I’m home. Many of us are joined at the palm to our cell phones or smartphones. Leave home without them? Never.

You might guess where I’m going with this, since I’m not a tech person. I do consider myself a spiritual person though—a Christian believer, to be specific. I had to think how much richer my spiritual life would be if I were to be as faithful and conscientious about hooking up with God each and every morning—for more than a passing prayer and a glance at a devotional or Scripture passage. What if I connected with God for three solid hours?

Another friend at work, Jerilyn Schrock, is finishing her bachelor’s degree online. This past semester, she took a New Testament survey course in which she needed to read the whole New Testament in eight weeks. That takes many hours of reading at least weekly, if not daily, much like you do when reading any textbook. She wasn’t sure she could read the whole thing in a semester (on top of all her other duties at work and church, and her other classwork), but indeed she did. And loved it!

“I’ve read the New Testament before but never this fast,” Jerilyn shared on Facebook. “This overview is flat-out amazing. I’m being transformed, and even my mentors say I’m a different person than eight weeks ago.”

Jerilyn went on to say, “Let me encourage, invite, or challenge you to read the New Testament in eight to ten weeks and see what happens.”

Jerilyn is purchasing some Encounter the Word reading guides for everyone in her congregation (the congregation is on the small side) and she’s challenging them to a “read off” this year. “Whoever finishes the Bible within the year will get a prize at the end of the year and we’ll report on personal changes as well as church changes,”she says. She also suggests that regional groupings of churches (such as conferences, Presbyteries, etc.) could do this too and offer prizes for churches with the highest percentage of members who read through the Bible in a year.

That sounds like a good start for the new year, I think, whether you choose just the New Testament for eight weeks or try to read the whole Bible in a year.

I would caution, though, not to read through it so fast that you skim or fail to take in the message. In my own college work (and once in a Sunday school class) we did a survey-type course of the Old Testament. Again, you get a more “whole” picture of the Christian religion (and Jewish, too) as you look at the book as a whole story with chapters instead of thinking of it as a collection of books (while it is that, too).

The point is not just to read something you may have read many, many times (or perhaps never read all the way through). The point is to connect as intimately with God as you do with your computer or mobile device for just a few of the hours that many of us spend—even in leisure—connected to the Internet.

Our office produces a handy Bible reading guide to keep you going and motivated, called Dig into the Bible. It’s great for kids or adults alike. I’ ll be happy to send you one free of charge so you can take up the challenge. You can connect with me through the many ways listed below!

For a free Bible reading guide, write to Another Way, 1251 Virginia Ave., Harrisonburg, VA 22802.