When I was in the Peace Corps, I had a lot of time on my hands. I’m not proud of some of the things I did with that time, but one good thing I managed to do was read a Bible all the way through, underlining everything that resonated with me in any way. Then, I took my journal and wrote out about 600 of the most striking verses and stories. I had funny stories about circumcisions and witches, simple bits of wisdom you could live your life by, people being unwittingly impaled, inspiring verses that held obvious sermon seeds, sexually explicit lyrics, all the good stuff. Everything anyone ever talks about when they talk about the Bible, I had it in my 20-page handwritten reference.
I used that reference I made for years. I used to call it “The Light,” a play on its brevity and its enlightening power. When I didn’t know what to preach about, 5 minutes in The Light, and I was back on track. Someone wanted to know where in the Bible the men tried to gang rape two angels, I’d check The Light and tell them it was Genesis 19.
For the past eight years, I relied on The Light. I put a lot of work in to compile it, and it served me well. Sure enough, when I moved from New York to Los Angeles to finally become a full time pastor, I lost that journal among other things on the move. I have combed every bag and box we brought, which wasn’t all that much anyway, and it’s not here.
At first, I felt real despair, but I’m learning that despair and self-doubt don’t do me any good. I still have the same job description and the same preaching and teaching responsibilities Light or no Light. I just let it go.
I figure that God must not want me to be relying on it too much. Even though that frankly doesn’t make sense to me, I know that if my old notes were absolutely essential to my new job, I would still have them. So I just let them go. They’re gone anyway, so holding on to the memory and how easy things were in the good old days will only make me miserable. And since being miserable makes me miserable, I just let it go.
Just let it go.