The Lord led me to stop jumping around the Bible and to read it like a normal book is read. I was to start at the very beginning, and work my way to the end of the book. I was not going to be allowed to skip - no skipping - he seemed adamant about that. So that is what I did. I started at Genesis 1:1 and began reading. As I read, I used colored highlighters, this helped me stay on task, showed me what I had read, and allowed me to highlight things that "jumped out" at me, or things that were important, like when God was actually speaking. Dear reader, do you know what happened? Well, several things happened.
First, I found things in there that I never knew were in there. Second, a lot of things I was confused about got straightened out, like certain details of what I considered to be "familiar" stories. And I realized that the Old Testament was the foundation for the New - so if something isn't in the Old Testament, then it won't be in the New Testament - there is nothing "new" under the sun. And most importantly, I began to fall completely and hopelessly in love with the real God of the Bible! As I read through hundreds of those thin pages, I began to see how big, strong, and powerful, He is. Yet, I saw that he was and is loving, merciful, humble and gracious. I learned He is just and faithful no matter how faithless we are, meaning, he always keeps his promises, but we don't. He never changes the rules, he's strict, but fair. For the first time in my life, I finally knew my God, and He was, and is, more than wonderful!
There were days I could hardly see the words through my tears. With every watery drop that ran down my flushed cheeks, a little more rubble would fall, and another weed would be plucked and another clod of dirt would be busted up in the strong hold in heart. Then finally I got to Matthew, where Jesus was being dedicated in the Temple, and it mentioned Joseph and Mary's sacrifice, which they were to give according to the law. I remembered reading that in Leviticus, so I was allowed to thumb back and reread it. Dear reader, it must have taken me ten minutes of going back and forth. I was actually arguing with God about their sacrifice as recorded in Scripture. According to Word of Faith doctrine, Jesus and his family were rich, so that meant they would have offered the required lamb. I was taught that they had received a huge offering from the Magi, and before that, Joseph was a successful carpenter, I mean come on Lord get it right! But instead of the expected lamb, they offered the two doves required of the poor. Can you see my quandary in the face of this apparent contra-diction?
Then something wonderful happened! God's word finally dropped into my heart and the wool was taken from my eyes, the truth as come. I clearly remember sitting at my dining room table and slamming my clenched fists onto the table. With my head bowed low in shame, I screamed, "Jesus' family was poor!" Behold the power of God's laser sharp word. It only took 10 minutes to skillfully cut away decades of festering false teaching. After sobbing cleansing tears of anguish and repentance, and blowing my nose, I was ready for more truth. I was indeed hooked. He was supplying me with genuine grade "A" [absolute] truth, and I couldn't get enough of it. I felt assured that there was plenty more where that came from, but he would give me only as much of the pure stuff, as I could handle. Every time he began to pull up a deeply rooted thorn of false teaching from my heart, it hurt immensely, but afterward I felt lighter, healthier, and stronger. You see dear reader, when I was left with nothing after my mom died, other than a heavy box of dust, and the feeling of being a Word of Faith failure, I wanted an accounting for what had just happened. Something went wrong, horribly wrong, and all I wanted was some answers. Things just did not turn out like I was told they would. I didn't want to "blame" anyone, I just wanted to discover what went wrong, so it wouldn't happen again.
We humans should be compelled to evaluate what has happened in any situation, so we can apply what we have learned. That is how we grow. This is how we avoid making the same mistakes. The Bible tells us that a curse causeless does not alight, and if sickness is a curse, than what is its cause? That is what I was compelled to find out. Again, if you don't learn from history, then you are doomed to repeat it. I never once considered the possibility that God messed up - He was not my problem, He was my solution. Even those Word of Faith teachers admit that. I thought that either I miss handled or misunderstood what I was taught. I even fearfully dared to consider the minute possibility that what I was taught might have been wrong, but never in my wildest dreams did I even consider the magnitude of what God was about to show me. After reading through my Bible, now it was time for me to take a good, long, hard, and scrutinizing look at whom I had been listening to; all of the men and women who offered me their fruits, which I bought and consumed over the last 30 or so years. Looking back now, it makes me think I should have bought stock in Kleenex!