When I Stopped Reading the Whole Bible
“I see it! It’s a dolphin!”
My college roommate Doug was acting like he had just discovered a cure for Ebola.
“Sure, I see it too. I said sarcastically. “It’s riding a motorcycle while eating a hotdog”
“No, seriously!” he said. “It’s a dolphin in the ocean. Can’t you see it?”
Then, another of my college friends erupted, “I see a pirate on a ship!” He was standing just a few feet away looking at one of the other computer-generated pieces of “art.” There were twenty or so pieces on display in the room.
“This one is the Terminator!” a third friend exclaimed with what seemed to be sincere wonder.
I thought they were playing a joke on me, making it up. All I could see was a repetitive digital mess of shapes and colors. Every poster size presentation looked like Max Headroom had attempted Jackson Pollock.
And much like a Jackson Pollock, each piece in this public art gallery was obscurely titled. One tiled jumble of dots and triangles was labeled, The Dolphin, another, A Pirate on a Ship, and then, of course, Terminator. The image I was looking at was apparently a Unicorn and a Rainbow.
I played along, “This unicorn is clearly representing humanity’s internal obsession with the illusion that is our external reality,”
Doug joined me. “You seriously can’t see it?” He asked incredulously.
“Whatever,” I scoffed, but I was starting to think the fellas actually saw something I couldn’t see.
Then Doug, ever the helpful friend, patiently began to describe how there was a 3D image hidden in the repetitive design of neon squiggles and squares. He began to coach me.
“If you unfocus your eyes, the image will suddenly appear.”
I tried to unfocus… which isn’t even a word. It didn’t work.
Doug kept encouraging me while the other guys threw out random instructions between their outbursts of amazement. They seemed to see each new 3D image with greater ease.
“Squint your eyes… wow, it’s a spaceship flying over the moon.”
“Spin around, it helps if you’re dizzy… cool, Darth Vader!”
“Just stare at your nose while keeping the picture in front of you… that doesn’t look like Pocahontas!”
I stood in front of that stupid picture of a unicorn and a rainbow for thirty minutes. Doug stuck with me for at least ten until he lost patience, “Just unfocus!”
“Unfocus? How does one do that?!” I thought, and also, “How do you know what Pocahontas looks like?”
The guys eventually moved on to whatever else that art gallery offered. But I stood there, a stubborn, dizzy, cross-eyed idiot trying to will a mythical creature to magically appear.
Eventually, the fellas got bored and let me know they were going to leave without me if I didn’t join them at the car. I left dejected.
Over the next few years, 3D hidden art became an American experience. I couldn’t go into a bookstore without one of those picture books mocking me with my absurd inability to see 3D images hidden in a sea of monotonous digital striations.
…Was Blind But Now I See…
Then one day at a Barnes and Nobles, while my new bride Karen stood beside me obnoxiously exclaiming every 3 seconds, “I see it, A Bird on a Wire”, or “oh, that one is fun, it’s Daffy Duck!” … finally… I saw it! That blessed beast, the legendary unicorn!
The image was titled Lady Liberty, and suddenly she exploded off the page in all her glorious wonder. Then, just as quick, she was gone. Just dots and shapes again.
I didn’t move. I willed myself calm, I waited, “come on out” I coaxed. I didn’t want to spook her. Something began to shift; I could feel my eyes adjusting, seeing in a way they never had before. “Easy now, careful” I encouraged.
And then, there she was again. Clear and indisputable and brilliant!
I didn’t take my eyes off the page. I didn’t move. I wouldn’t risk it, lest my eyes revert to their old way of seeing. I wasn’t going to give her the opportunity to hide again. I stood in awe.
After some time, with a small measure of confidence and excitement building, I cautiously flipped to the next page. New neurons and synapsis’ started firing; it was all there: The Dolphin, The Pirate, Darth Vader…
“He’s right, that looks nothing like Pocahontas!”
I devoured picture after picture, then book after book, hidden 3D images realizing before my eyes, each quicker than the last. I couldn’t see enough of them!
I had broken the code, I had shifted my lens, I had entered a new paradigm, I was living in a new narrative, the mysteries were being revealed, the hidden things were being made plain…
The Whole Story
Years ago I stopped reading the whole Bible. You read correctly. For about a two-year period, I only read the gospels. Well, that’s not fully true, occasionally I would brave my way into Psalms and Proverbs, but otherwise, I strictly and stubbornly stayed away from every book of the Bible except Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
I had discovered the unicorn, and I wasn’t going to take my eyes off it.
I had caught a glimpse of something hidden in plain sight. I could feel the eyes of my heart adjusting, seeing in a way they never had before. I couldn’t afford to look away, not even for a moment. I wouldn’t risk it, lest my eyes revert to their old way of seeing and I lose sight of this glorious revelation – Jesus. I was seeing Him in such powerful ways.
I cautiously flipped the pages; excitement building, new neurons and synapsis’ firing…
I remember my first picture bible; I was 5 and so proud to have my very own. My dad read the whole book to me over the following months.
I still have my One Year Bible; I read the whole of it when I was 13.
When I was 18 I went to Bible College where I studied the whole bible.
I love the whole Bible, every page. I will continue to grow in my knowledge and love of it. But when I intentionally stopped reading the whole bible for those two years, I did so for a reason. I had some unlearning to do.
Unlearning is a lot like unfocusing, except unlearning is actually a word.
During those two years, I was not denying the whole bible; I was resetting my lens. I had seen the unicorn. I had discovered my core conviction, my whole theology – God is love, and His love is always good, and He looks like Jesus!
Jesus is the clearest way to know what Love looks like, acts like, sounds like, dreams like, teaches like, interacts with Father like, walks in the Holy Spirit like…
Jesus is perfect theology – the clearest and truest way to know what God is like.
You see, most of my life I developed whole thoughts about who God was by reading my whole Bible. By that I mean, for too long I had allowed Job’s thoughts to carry as much weight as Jesus’. I don’t do that anymore.
I am not suggesting God can’t be discovered in Job, but Job is the question, Jesus is the answer.
And Jesus is the whole answer. Jesus is the whole truth. Jesus is the whole perfect revelation of God. Jesus is what the whole Bible is about. Jesus is what everything before points to, and what everything after is built upon. Jesus is the beginning, the end, everything in between and everything after. Jesus is the whole story – His, yours, and mine.
Jesus is Perfect Theology
During those two years in the gospels, I saw Jesus. And I couldn’t look away. Not for a second. He is wholly beautiful, wholly kind, wholly loving. During those two years when I wouldn’t read the whole Bible, Jesus was making me whole.
I began seeing in a way I never had before. My old eyes, old thought patterns, old understanding of God, were being renewed. I began seeing life in a new way. I discovered a better language, a truer paradigm. The mysteries were being revealed; the hidden things were being made plain. God is love and His love is always good!
And He looks like Jesus. And I fixed my eyes on Him and only Him as the Author and Perfecter of my faith, the whole story.
The revelation of Jesus as the whole story began shifting my narrative, my foundational approach to our relationship, to every relationship, to every circumstance, and to how I would eventually read the whole bible.
Yes, I am again reading the whole Bible. But I read it differently now. Much like searching for the hidden image in 3D art, I look for the hidden revelation of Jesus, perfect love, in every page. And I am daily becoming better at finding Him.
Jesus is my lens, my true narrative. His perfect love is my conviction. His goodness is my faith. Every question I have, every relationship or circumstance, every scripture, including the tension Job represents, is measured against the measureless revelation of Jesus.
I have discovered the unicorn. Jesus is the whole gospel, the whole story.
And just so, I have discovered the lens by which to know the sovereignty of God, the kindness of God, the justice, righteousness, and grace of God. Jesus is the whole story and in Him and through Him is how I now read the whole Bible…
Jason Clark is a writer, speaker and lead communicator at A Family Story ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children.
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