The last couple of days we were studying the book of Jonah together. During the time where they were sharing what they saw during that overview, they were talking about what a great prophet Jonah was, and how he trusted God, and was a real man of faith.
Typically in these sessions I spend most of my time affirming what people see in scripture. It is my role to give them the tools to see and then get out of the way… Not this time. I responded to their observations with something like, ‘’you have got to be kidding!” This is the “man of God” who is describe three times in Jonah 1:3 – 10 as fleeing from the presence of the Lord. Not only that but he pays a fee to do so. Then he feels so bad about fleeing from God, that he goes down into the boat in the midst of a storm and falls fast asleep. Then when confronted he does not admit what is going on until forced to. Real Godly example.
What was happening with the people in the room? They “read” the book, it is only about 50 verses, and rather than seeing what the text said, they saw what they thought should be there. Prophet equals good guy, so Jonah had to be good. Nope.
Took some time but we got around that and they got it. It occurs to me that they are not the only people on the planet that read what they expect to see in the Bible rather than what it actually says.
To read or study well, we have to read as if for the first time. We have to read with fresh eyes. We have to be willing to see beyond what we expect to find. Otherwise, we are wasting our time.