Have you read the Bible, or has the Bible read you?

I pick the boys up from school and Cam narrates the intricacies of his social, emotional and academic day. Scott yells jubilant – ‘Jacarandas!’ – every time we pass through an avenue of purple. Back home they lug sweaty school bags. Lunchboxes tumble to the sink. Shoes are chucked off on cool kitchen tiles. Homework diaries flop tired on the table followed by the boys they belong to. I make toast. Slice peaches.

We scrabble words and practise sounds and ink big letters. Then it’s the memory verses. The boys spill words easy like they’re spoiled. Full. Over-feasted. No space even for dessert.

We do it to tick it off. Just another activity. This thing of teeth and tongue and trachea producing the sounds of the living God’s living Word.

But today Scott beams – eyes gleam – like Someone flicked a switch in his soul. He doesn’t want to say this week’s verse. ‘Not that one,’ he says. ‘The cow verse! The cow verse!’ I’m like, Huh? Then I remember a few weeks back – how he was taken by it and said it over and over: ‘Desire the pure milk of the Word that you may grow by it’ (1 Peter 2:2). Of course. Milk. The cow verse.

He’s been anxious on and off so I’ve stuck Daniel 10:19 by his bed. We have to lie down to read it. I talk into and over and through the words until I think he starts to feel them: ‘Don’t be afraid … for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!’

And some school mornings he’s all gung-ho and matter-of-fact: ‘I just going to be so brave.’ Awesome, I tell him. So brave. Then he’ll say, ‘Let’s go read my verse again!’ He hurtles back down the passage – school bag wheels careening wild against walls – back to his bed and we lie down one more time so we can face it and read it soft and strong.

We lie down one more time to face it.

Because maybe it’s all about posture and position. Maybe too often I’m soapbox-standing over Scripture. Just so I can fling it where I find it convenient – to contrive or convince or cover something. Or maybe most days, if I’m honest, my head hangs heavy over God-breathed pages and I sigh and slouch bored. Just so I can say it’s done: tick.

Because I’m a Christian. So I read the Bible.

But it’s my pick-and-choose buffet, not my daily bread. It’s a feel-good Pinterest printable, not perpetual truth and pervasive promise. I cut-and-paste it on culture to prove convictions or condone controversy instead of breathing in what God breathed, then breathing it out – not as hot foul breath to wither or excuse – but life breath – CPR for a dying world.

I’m thinking, what if I sat up straight – silent – alert – or bowed low – humble – honest – and let the Bible read me? What if I let the words of the Word find their way into the crevices of my hurt or confusion, my hate or condescension?

Because this guy said it at Catalyst – how you can tell if someone has read the Bible, or if the Bible has read them.

And I know that when my posture and position are right – when I kneel quiet or lie still and let the Word read my inside stories – things happen. Things change. The Word edits and amends. Adjusts my course.

The day’s heat is defeated by the cool relief of rain. The world is washed. And don’t I want the Word to do that? Drench dust and dirt with streaming life.

There’s thunder and Scott ends up in our bed because the washing can be kind of terrifying. I hug him through the storm but I want him to know that this flash and rumble is good. It’s good to have the world rocked and it’s good to see the life it brings.

I want him to know that the Word draws hard lines of truth and paints brushstrokes of grace.

I want him to know that the Word never bends to the tendencies of culture but always bends tender around broken hearts.

I want him to know that the Word will reach in, if he’ll let it, and bring hope.

. . .

I’d love to hear your Word story? Feel free to leave a comment, or get in touch.

A month exactly, God willing, ‘til the launch of Dragons and Dirt: the truth about changing the world and the courage it requires (©2014). Yippee. (Read about it here.) I sent out some review copies this weekend, and thought I’d share parts of this mail, which I got from a friend last night:

Dear D

I slept very little last night! I started reading Dragons and Dirt at about 10 pm and thought that I would just read a chapter or two until I fell asleep. Well, I didn’t fall asleep and even after I read the very last word and closed my iPad and tried to sleep, sleep still eluded me; my head was spinning…

Dalene, you have given so much of yourself; it’s like there’s a bit of your blood on every page. And, isn’t that what discipleship and this journey of ours should be about? It’s like you are saying ‘I’ve been to this place and I dare you – urge you – to come with me.’ It’s raw and honest and inspiring. I was challenged by the sections on forgiveness; the intensity and practicality are refreshing (no, more than refreshing; I sense – and then share – the urgency to be free).

I hear your voice in each sentence; it’s honest and unaffected … I can’t wait for this book to get out. My prayer is that it would touch a deep spot in each reader and would stimulate change in each one. May it find its way into all sorts of hands and homes in a way that is beyond what you could have asked or imagined …

With fondest love and loud applause

. . .


  1. Stunning post. And super amped to read the rest of the book and privileged that i am one of the people on your list. Can testify to the blood – what a stunning review – i’m going to have to lift my game.

    you rock and people will be taking you more seriously after this one – as they should!

    love brett fish


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