I love reading the Bible. Whenever I do, I always encounter something new and totally alive in the old stories. Actually, to be totally correct, something old and totally alive always encounters me in my renewing story.

Long ago, I began reading Scripture with the intent of “placing me” into the stories. Before you think poorly of me, let me explain.

For a long time, I read the Bible to learn “what’s there.” But that way of reading seemed to hold me at a distance from the stories. Somewhere along the way, I discovered the joy of imagining myself “in” the stories. I dared to ask myself, “what would it have been like TO BE PRESENT during what I am reading?”

I would put myself “in the story” along with the crowd of disciples. I would walk behind Jesus (trying not to make eye contact with Judas) and be part of the crowd pushing in on Him as He healed on the Sabbath upsetting those Pharisees. I would be one of the thousands of very hungry people with growling tummies who were wonderfully fed with just five loaves, two fish, and some Words from Jesus. I would be beside Peter warming ourselves on that cold night around the campfire as that pesky woman kept raucously accusing him (with that piercing voice) of being one of Jesus’ followers while the embers snapped and jumped towards the heavens. I would be at the foot of the cross and hear the struggle of His almost imperceptible last words over the tears of his grieving Mother as His life-giving blood dripped down from the wood forming puddles in the dirt. I would be hiding along with those scared disciples trying to be the person furthest away from those closed doors that we expect Roman soldiers to burst through at any moment – as SOMEONE appears suddenly in our midst – with the doors still closed!

I know it sounds a little sacrilegious, but I encourage you to read with your creative “minds eye” in that same way the next time you read Scripture. It takes some practice but it becomes easier to do with time. If you wish the stories to really get inside you, take yourself inside the stories. Use all five senses in your imagination as you read while smelling, and touching, and tasting, and hearing, and then truly seeing.

You just may be amazed at the Divine encounters you will have…

God’s Creative Joy,