A good story does something to you.
We say, “That hit me hard.” Or, “That punched me in the gut.” Or, “That really affected me” or “got to
me.” It is like the story is a person, or a fighter or a body in motion.
It does something to you. Not you to it.
The only thing required is to be quiet and listen. To sit down in front of it and shut up. Any studying, interpretations, calculations of the story are in a sense way too late. Too slow. Tectonically slow. The wrong move.
If you tell me a story and I trust you, like you, love you; I accept it before I believe it. I believe it before it is explained. The correct posture seems to be an intense, unrelenting humility before it. To truly love a thing is to know its essential goodness, and it is to simply allow it to happen, or to happen to you. Like life for instance. Like the Bible. The Bible is happening to you.
But if the point of reading the Bible is not to study and interpret, in a sense, try to understand it, then what is the point?
It might be more correct to say there is no point in reading the Bible. Or maybe the point of reading the Bible is the same as the point of exploring a large and luxurious library in a distant castle which you inherited: The point is to enjoy it.
Or, strangely, to be terrified by it. Since enjoyment and terror are very close things. (Like the sheer joy and terror of a new baby). And this is understanding. Not intellectual understanding. Not rational understanding. But Job-like understanding. Ecclesiastes-like understanding. To accept the weight of a thing without asking how much. To accept it without explanation.
This freedom then somehow opens a door to all doors.
We seem to have inherited from Adam the eternal habit of making things too complicated. As if this is the best way to simplify. We make our words longer. As if this is the best way to understand. More. We make our sentences are longer. As if this is the path to clarity. We must always add to the sentence, “Be.”
“Be saved. Be cleansed. Be healed.” When “being” and “being saved” are one and the same. We must always add to the sentence, “I want to see.” “See God. See eternal life. See truth. See lies.” When “seeing” and “seeing truth” are one and the same. The same with live. The same with love. The same with ask, seek, and knock. We must always have a for, or a what, or an object, or a reason. But when we disappear, the speech and the sentence can shorten dramatically to the true nature of existence. The man who spake, “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins,” could only speak a thing like that from his heart. Just as the man who truly understands it can only hear it with his heart. And both watch every bird fly away and the sky suddenly darken at its utterance.
But the rational man who speaks from his mind, “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins”—no matter how well it fits onto his detailed and highly crafted, and highly reasoned doctrinal system; no matter how well it nulls out his own cosmological mathematics; no matter how perfectly he copies the original—that man is lying. Now the Spirit and Truth of that sentence may and can seep into the heart of another. But what a shame for the man of the mind! The Spirit can not strive with his mind. He is alienated from his own salvation.
That rational man will evangelize the simple name and message of Jesus and others will respond to the name, moved by the message and worked upon by the very Spirit the man himself does not have within. And the man will watch this occur and believe he understands their salvation better than they. In this sad way, he becomes a lonely statue on the bottom of the ocean where the ark of Noah once dry-docked; bemused at the quietness, heaviness and lack of sun in his world; waiting to get on a ship that has already sailed. Waiting for life to begin.
He sings beautifully in the belly of the big fish, “I lift my eyes to hills. Where does my help come from?” And others hear and leave and ascend. And he remains in his darkness.