Pause for Thought with Ray Dadswell: The Bible and me

We continue to celebrate 400 years of the King James Version, and here is another testimony to the power of daily reading of God’s Word in an individual’s life.

Caroline Kimber answers a few questions ...

Q. FOR HOW LONG have you been reading the Bible?

A. I went to Sunday School as a child, but did not read the Bible itself, rather had stories from it told to me. In junior and secondary schools, we did ‘Scripture’, but again I did not read the Bible outside of that required for lessons.

I became a Christian on 8th January 1977, but two years or so before that had set God a ‘challenge’.

I told God (that is, if he existed and I was not sure that he did, and if he could hear me and I was not

sure that he could) to prove to me that he was the God of the Bible, the one who could heal the sick, raise the dead, part the sea, etc, etc, and if he did, then I would unreservedly give him my life.

Having done that I thought it would be only fair to keep my part of the bargain and read the book in which God seems to reveal himself to us mortals.

Q. WHEN YOU READ your Bible, what do you expect to get from it?

A. I read the Bible every day and for several years now have not used any form of Bible notes or helps, but have read through the Bible each year, usually in chronological order. I think this is my spiritual version of making sure I have enough ‘fibre’ in my diet. I cannot say that I get something out of my reading every day, but it keeps my spirit ‘regular’! There are of course times when I have been asking God about something particular and my reading for that day has cast light on that issue. The other thing that is important not only for Bible reading but in life is to note that I find myself saying “That’s interesting” or “That’s odd”. So my expectation from the Bible is that it will

help me ‘clean up my act’ as a Christian and direct my life.

Q. HAS ANY VERSE or passage of Scripture made a particular impression on you?

A. I do not really have one major verse or passage, but if I had to choose at all it would be the prophecy of Isaiah. I am fascinated by the fact that it is a microcosm of the whole Bible in that it has an equal number of chapters as there are books in the Bible (66). The first thirty-nine chapters (the

same number as books in the Old Testament) chart God’s dealings with his people, their sin, a call to repentance and the dire consequences of ignoring the warnings. The other twenty-seven chapters (the same number as books in the New Testament) deal with actual exile, the outcome of ignoring God’s warnings, but also the encouragement that God would use these very same exiled, imperfect people to bring the message of the Servant (Jesus) to all the nations of the world.

So, if I could only have one book of the Bible on my desert island, it would have to be Isaiah!

Q. WHAT ADVICE would you give to people (Christian or otherwise) who do not regard Bible-reading as important?

A. I believe the Bible has plenty to say about life today. The prophet Isaiah spoke out against property speculation, compulsory purchasing, gazumping, calling evil good and making it a virtue, drunkenness, denying justice to the poor, taking bribes, and the list goes on. I cannot remember who said this, but I think he had a point, “It isn’t the parts of the Bible I don’t understand that give me a problem, but rather the bits I do understand.”

My advice for anyone thinking of reading the Bible is first buy a copy in a translation he can understand. The King James Version is wonderful but a bit heavy-going.

When Her Majesty the Queen was crowned, she was presented with a copy of the Bible, and these words were said to her: ‘Here is Wisdom, this is the Royal Law, these are the Lively Oracles of God’.

‘Lively Oracles’ sounds a bit like some sort of strange illness, but actually means ‘The Living Words of God’, so prepare yourself to be challenged and provoked.