Since we have little time at hand today, I thought of sharing with you what prompted me to give you a guided tour of the Holy Bible. I will sincerely and strongly tell you - at least one of you readers who is currently on this guided tour is dearly loved by God to the extend I cannot explain.
This blog was started as a central place to communicate and update my Sunday school students, back in 2008. For the next few years, it continued to post related information, and hence the name was changed to 'Beyond the Sunday School'. It was updated for the sake of ones not present in my Sunday school class. Majority of those postings were from numerous other sources, and stayed in status quo - FYI.
One day a dear friend asked me a simple yet powerful and profound question, "Why is wisdom called She?" The search for that answer took me to wonderful places which I had never journeyed before. It took me to writings of King Solomon, Aristotle, Isaac Newton, and numerous other authors, who led me towards the Holy Spirit and ultimately all their writings converged at a single location - The Holy Bible. A bit of this journey was through the Hindu and Greek mythology drawing parallels. Even within the Bible, wisdom writings appeared at several locations - some even in those secret writings, Apocrypha.
About a month ago, I posted an article on Jesus at Gethsemane. While composing it, I could feel myself standing and witnessing the one hour of agony Jesus endured. Tears were rolling down my eyes when I tried to experience that hour myself. Couple of days later, I wrote a mini article on The Letter to Galatians and could feel those emotions which St.Paul felt while authoring the letter.
Around that time, a voice within me prompted me to write about the entire Bible. I questioned this voice and genuinely asked, "Who, among my readers or church members is interested in learning about the Bible?" I tried very hard to convince that voice, "No, I do not think anyone is going to read it." If it were a 'spicy topic', there would be numerous followers - but this is the Holy Scripture which nobody wants. Those days, I could not accomplish anything else - it was as if my hands were tied and I felt helpless.
Over the course of day and night, this voice came repeatedly towards me. Now, the voice grew stronger and I could hear as if I was being given clear instructions - "Complete Old Testament before Christmas, and New Testament by Easter." I still battled this voice and stopped posting articles on the blog. To me, this seemed an impossible task, as Bible contains so many books and so many chapters. It appeared as if it will take two to three years to complete such a work. I asked myself, "Who is going to read this?" The answer I got was, "That is not your job." Then to my dismay, everything else around me stopped and I could not accomplish a single thing. Seeing me toss and turn in bed all night, my wife asked me what was bothering me so much. I explained the situation and finally I decided to follow and submit myself to that inner voice.
My next task was to come up with a study plan. Amazing, I would call, help came to me withing my own house - walking into an old bookshelf, I found an old book which gave me many of those answers I was seeking. Considering and respecting holidays, I was able to come up with a schedule. Next, I had to find my audience. At first, I was bit shy to send an email out to people - it would seem like one of those solicitation emails, I thought. Then, as I started doing it, I felt no shame and reached out to almost everyone in my address book with courage - my father, brother, cousins and family members, church members, and even to my high school friends. At that time, I was planning on sending out emails everyday and to set up a new blog for this purpose. As I started sending out initial emails, one day an old Bible verse came to my mind - which said, "Don't waste what is holy on people who are unholy..." That's when I revered to this blog.
Finding study and reference material was my next challenge. I am not a Biblical Scholar and have only limited knowledge - few broken pieces which I gained from Sunday school and was not aware of any scholars who could guide me. As I sat down to begin writing, miraculously or astonishingly, I should say, material started pouring towards me, as if it were raining - Ancient Jewish writings in Hebrew dated to BC (which I gladly translate and study), Medieval writings, Comments of Philosophers, Books from Princeton Theological Seminary few centuries old, and several other sources. In short, I did not go anywhere, supporting material just flew towards me.
What was even wonderful was that, while writing, I could literally picture these characters alive in front of me going through these incidents. I could relate and reason why a certain person did so under a particular circumstance. Just to name a few, I used to wonder:
- what a grandiose project with infinite wisdom it was, to create the entire universe;
- how handsome Adam would have been - if the innocence on a child's face is so attractive, how graceful it would have been on a fully grown man;
- how wonderful, beautiful and innocent looking would have been God's most lovely creation - Eve;
- how hard Adam and Eve would have fought, to stay back in the Garden of Eden;
- when it is so difficult to catch a mouse, how easily Noah gathered all those animals, wearing the 'Coat of Adam';
- the extend of evil, corruption and homosexuality that prevailed at Sodom and Gomorrah which made God destroy the entire city;
- how beautiful Sarah would have been, if Abraham was afraid of his life when she was 90 years of age;
- how Isaac spent his days being almost blind;
- the depth of Jacob's love for Rachel;
- the extend of animosity between Jacob & Esau, and how they reconciled;
- the difficulties Joseph had to encounter away from his family;
- how miraculously God protects and takes care of those who love him;
- and many more.
With the library of information I now have at my disposal, all I lack is time to digest all those. What you probably read in a matter of 3 to 4 minutes or so on the blog, is a result of 6-8 hours of work. I do enjoy spending time and do not even feel like eating, drinking or sleeping - this stuff is too good to miss!! Now, I am trying my best to discipline myself, so that you readers can read everyday at the earliest.
Some of you sent me long emails about this project, some called me, and some sent brief mails sharing your thoughts of being on the tour. As a request, please do not thank me, as now you can relate, I did not take up this project by myself and I certainly do not deserve it. I believe God loves one or many of you so dearly and wants to read His letter - you probably know that already. My role is just being a guide. One of you even volunteered to correct any errors and be the editor of this blog - another example of how God prompts others.
Here is the crux of the matter - only when we read and study the Bible, we will experience and appreciate the beauty of God's work, and learn human behavior. With a tight schedule and limited time to pen the summary, I naturally tend to skip numerous things - right now, I want all of us to be on track as time is important and limited.
Feedback & Update
Thank you for your comments - they are valuable feedback. By doing so, you are actually contributing towards the construction of this little project. I have organized Genesis 1- 5 with titles, posted few more paintings that I had, for every posting. Paintings used to be the only means to share and learn God's words in those early days (other than word of mouth), as Bible was not accessible at all. Hopefully you can now take a closer look at a painting and explain the story which the painter was trying to narrate.
In the future, based on your comments, I shall make corrections and adjustments. Let's think long term - someone who is in search of wisdom or God's words may stumble upon these writings several years or decades from now. Let's make it a wonderful reading experience for everyone, keeping those future readers in mind. God only knows if we will ever get a chance to travel these fabulous paths again.
One day while you are coaching your grandchildren to walk in God's ways, you can narrate these stories to them with a a smile on your face.