All These Years
by Linda Slaton
When my sisters and I traveled to Europe years ago, we splurged on one fine hotel –the Bella Rosa in the pedestrian district of Florence, Italy. I was utterly awed that we were staying in a structure that was 500 hundred years old. I soaked it in then and over these many years have reflected countless times on how the experience made me feel. Barely able to wrap my mind head around the time span, I felt both dwarfed, one of the thousands over the centuries who had entered its halls, and highly privileged – to just be among them. In some sense, I felt a bit of kinship with a bit of humanity that valued its beauty, its history.
Today, I open my Bible as I do every day and resume reading where I left off. John 18 talks of the final days of Jesus’ earthly life –how the Roman cohort and chief priests confronted Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, how Peter drew his sword, cut off the soldier’s ear, and later the same day denied he even knew Jesus three times. Then soldiers took Him into custody, presented Him before high priests Annas and Caiaphas and, finally, to Pilate who condemned Him to die.
As I read the story, it hits me for the first time: this was 2,000 years ago. These words were penned by a man who lived in a distant land that long ago. Two thousand years. This story has been told and retold, read and reread, preached and studied by millions, maybe billions, of people the world over. All. These. Years. My own eyes are right now focused on ancient words read by every flavor of mankind, every class – paupers, princes, fast-food workers, children, heads of state and celebrities – every ethnicity of human beings for millennia. And I didn’t have to fly over the ocean or pay fortunes for it. It’s right here on my ordinary desk in a place called Little Rock, Arkansas, in the United States of North America, in the 21st century.
I have valued the scriptures for decades, made reading it a part of my daily rhythm and ritual, basked in its profundity and simplicity, and sought to apply it to my actual life. But never – until now – have I stood in awe of it and glimpsed the corporate experience known to such a vast swath of humanity over the ages.
The Bella Rosa is impressive but it strikes me that we humans are far too easily awe-struck. The Bible should send us to our knees in wonder and make us beg the Author to tell us: where do I fit in Your ancient story? What lines are You writing for me and about me? Show me my purpose.