A Challenge to “Read Boring Books”

image1But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:17

My worst category for Trivia Crack is Entertainment. It hovers just over 50%. Much to the delight of my opponents and the dismay and grief of my friends, I don’t know the name of the first Star Wars episode or when Pink Floyd released its first album. I didn’t even know who Ryan Gosling was until like two years ago. Or who Katniss Everdeen was until last summer. I actually didn’t know what Serial was until last week; in fact, it wasn’t until this past Christmas break that I discovered this new thing called a “podcast.”

You name a movie, and I probably haven’t seen it. The success rate drastically decreases when you test me on song titles. I guess you could say that I’m likely not Generation Y’s greatest representative.

Honestly, though, I don’t regret my living under a rock too much (although sometimes it is slightly embarrassing, especially when your professor—who knows you want to go into the military—says, “Who has not seen A Few Good Men?” and you’re the only one in the entire class who, at least voluntarily, raises his hand). There’s always going to be a new movie, an emerging celebrity, 2015’s fad akin to Gangnam Style.

One thing I think I and my fellow late-’80s- and early-’90s-born comrades have lost, though, is the ability to sit and read books. I don’t mean the books that are exciting to read (those New York Times bestsellers can be quite riveting; it’s hard enough to find readers for them, though). I mean plodding through A Tale of Two Cities unabridged. Or all 1,387 pages of Penguin Classics The Count of Monte Cristo. Or understanding and critiquing Francis Schaeffer’s dichotomy.

I mean we’ve largely lost the pleasure of extolling the sacred virtues of Psalm 119. Somehow—and probably somewhat inadvertently—we have this idea that 176 verses is way too long to read in one sitting. Men like Elihu—who are willing to respectfully listen in silence until the unjustifiable arguments of Job and his three friends have ceased—are few and far between. The Ruths who will leave Moab to glean in Boaz’s fields (and know the significance of gleaning) are just as rare.

With this loss, I think we’ve also gained some new frustrations. For those of us who’ve grown up in church, we find our faith waning, our minds plagued by a daily dose of doubts. We want to sing, “In Christ alone, my hope is found; He is my light, my strength, my song.” We might be discontent with spiritual catch-phrases, but on Sunday morning, it takes us 15 minutes to find the Bible that we left in the trunk of the car, where we placed it last week after church. Thankfully, that didn’t happen to me this week; but this was one week of 52. Maybe 36.

I’m incredibly, inexplicably, and unfathomably grateful for the saving grace of God that has washed away my sin past, present, and future. I am in eternal gratitude for the divine mercy that justifies me through the completed work of Christ. But at times, I am unintelligibly mortified at my inability to sit through a five-minute prayer with a friend. Or to get through Proverbs 9 without my mind converting my tasks of the day into a checklist before I reach verse 18. I and many of my fellow Generation Y-ers struggle with sins that so easily overtake us and with a lack of sensitivity toward spiritual things. And I think a large part of this is that we’re impatient. Sometimes, we get so impatient that we start to create our own categories of holiness and hold others to the same standards. But that mistake isn’t any better.

We don’t recognize that “growing in grace” means that sanctification takes time—much, much longer than the time it takes to genuinely sing Sunday’s soul-searching refrains. Sanctification means that we go through valleys of the shadow of death. The same hands we lift in earnest pleas will be fashioning illegitimate mischief by Wednesday. We forget that worship isn’t just music and the breaking of bread but a way of life, the act of putting on the mind of Christ, the focus of seeing the world through his eyes as well as approaching our daily lives cognizant of his presence and his will.

To a certain extent, I facetiously blame it on our inability to read boring books. After all, we’re closer than a stone’s throw from those who would say that our Book is too old to be dependable. But in some ways, they’re much too right; we aren’t living it or reading it anyway. And so the doubts come.

But we must remember that in the valley of the shadow death, we must fear no evil: God is with us. And a patient, long-suffering God has made patience part of the process.

May we grow in grace. May our trust in the One “who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” delve deeper. May God stir our hearts to embrace the patience of growth, to rise above instant gratification, to seek the face of our Savior daily by engrossing ourselves in the pages of his revelation. When the temptation to hurry overtakes us, may God’s conviction overwhelm us to ponder the paths of our feet, to lean not on our own understanding but to acknowledge him in all our ways.