As Christians, we want to do God’s will for we know it is the best way to live. We believe that in a general sense but what about doing something very specific, something we have not done before? It is then we often hesitate, wondering what people will say, or, if it is really sensible.
We often miss out on a great blessing by rationalising ourselves into thinking that maybe this isn’t something God really wants me to do.
If I had adopted that attitude on March 10, 2012, I would have missed a wonderful blessing, something that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Others would also have missed a blessing as a consequence.
On that Sabbath, I was reading Adventist World magazine when I came across an article about a specialist farmer in Korea, who, in his later years, decided he would write out the Bible by hand. In nine years Nam Yong Han had written out the Bible in the Korean script, not just once, twice or three times, but six times and once in Chinese!
When I came to that part of the article I stopped. I was amazed at what this brother of mine had done—his determination, his persistence, his dedication to such a wonderful venture. I decided I wanted to do something like that. But write out the Bible by hand? I didn’t think my ageing hand would cope with even one journey through the Bible. What else could I do?
Write a paraphrase of the Bible was the strong impression that came to my mind. This thought had never entered my head in nearly 74 years. However, inspiration had struck and was not to be denied. So on Monday morning, March 19, 2012, I sat at my computer and commenced typing.
"This really is God’s gift to me in obeying His prompting to do something I had never envisaged doing."
Writing a paraphrase of the Bible is not to be entered into lightly. It is a daunting task—more than a thousand pages and nearly one million words. I had made a decision to see it right through to the end. I had to see progress every day, even though not much more than a page at a sitting. As the weeks and months elapsed I reached my first goal—100 pages. Other goals were set and met and, finally, I reached the end of the Earlier (Old) Testament.
Interestingly, the Later (New) Testament is not quite one-quarter of the entire Bible, which tells me something about how much emphasis we should give to the only Scriptures the early church knew.
Two years, one month and six days later, I had come to the end of Revelation. There was much to be done, of course, in refining the manuscript—from proofreading, editing, spacing issues, and many other aspects to check. Finally The Gift was about to be launched and what an exciting journey this had been!
But what has this whole experience meant to me? What have I learnt in spending much of nearly three years, pondering every word of every text and reproducing it in my words? As I have said to my wife, this is an experience no-one can take from me. This really is God’s gift to me in obeying His prompting to do something I had never envisaged doing. As I decided initially to allocate different colours to the words of the Members of the Godhead, it was somewhat of an eye-opener to see just how much of the Bible, particularly the Earlier Testament, was the actual words of God written out by the various authors.
There were passages I approached with apprehension. What would I do with the book of Romans, as Peter’s challenge that some of Paul’s writings are hard to understand rang in my ears? I do not know the particular texts Peter was referring to, but as always, I prayed at the beginning of a writing session for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and help. He did help me through difficult passages as well as the more straightforward books.
After The Gift was launched and after two printings, I decided I would extract the gospels, put these into chronological order and group together what any of the gospel writers had said on the same subject or event. I called this Acts of the Gospels. Both books have been well received around Australia and in the US.
Do not ignore the Spirit’s prompting. If He speaks to you, respond by doing what He knows you can do with His help. After all, Christ told His disciples He would send the Holy Spirit to help us. Don’t be hesitant in what God wants you to do for He will give you the strength to do it.
William Ackland is retired and writes from NSW.