Every summer as part of my vacation planning, I pick out two or three books that I want to read on vacation. This summer I am looking forward to reading a novel by Walker Percy and a collection of short stories by Flannery O’Connor. Sometimes I choose fun novels without any real depth. Other times I choose tomes like War and Peace or Moby Dick. But I have never gone on vacation without a book or two in hand. You may do the same. Many of us read books as a way to relax, step away from ordinary life, and see things from a fresh perspective.
This past week I took up a practice with a friend that I have never done before. We read one book every day. Don’t worry, it was a very short book! Each day, we read 1 John from the Bible, straight through every morning. Each time I read it through I would discover a new theme, a new detail, a new connection with other Bible passages. More importantly, I had a much deeper understanding of the book after each reading. With that deeper understanding, I have already started to notice new thought patterns. The way I see people around me is being transformed. The way I behave towards others is starting to be transformed as a result.
Reading and re-reading imprints the words of Scripture on our minds and hearts. In his book Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster argues that the Discipline of Study is the most critical spiritual discipline for our transformation. He writes, “The apostle Paul tells us that we are transformed through the renewal of the mind (Rom. 12:2). The mind is renewed by applying it to those things that will transform it (Phil. 4:8). Therefore, we should rejoice that we are not left to our own devices but have been given this means of God’s grace for the changing of our inner spirit.” God has given us the Scriptures upon which to fix our minds so that our thinking and behavior can be transformed.
As you are thinking about books to read this summer, why not throw in a short book of the Bible to read through each day on vacation? Or pick a longer book and read one chapter each day. If you have never read through a gospel, this could be a manageable goal. In about 10 minutes a day, you could easily read through a gospel. We cannot claim to know the gospel when we have never taken the time to study a gospel. In summer time, God calls us to rest. But the kind of rest He calls us to transforms our minds, souls, and behaviors. I invite and encourage you to include God in your vacation planning.