Sometimes, if I am reading the Bible too quickly, I have a Wile E. Coyote moment. Often when chasing the Road Runner, Wile E. would get so focused on what he was doing that he would run 15 feet off a cliff without realizing it. Then he would pause in mid air, look at the camera, then at his feet and plummet.
I feel that way sometimes while reading the Bible. I’ll get in a rhythm and start making progress. I’ll be cruising through Genesis and Exodus, moving along at a good clip, flying by the material, until out of nowhere I’ll pause, mid thought and say, “Wait, what???”
I’ll go back a few verses and realize that I breezed past something outrageous that at first glance I took as commonplace. Recognizing my error I’ll push pause, reread the verse and then fall off a theological cliff much like Wile E.
That’s exactly what happened to me last Monday. I was reading Exodus 4 when God gives Moses his marching orders. Here is what verse 21 – 23 says:
The Lord said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’”
God is giving Moses instructions. Dire, serious instructions, but thus far I am as pastors love to say, “tracking with him.” I get what is happening, having discussed the Passover story and the plight of the Israelites a lot growing up. So, at Wile E. Coyote speed I continue to the next verse:
“At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him.”
Wait, what??? In one verse, God is telling Moses what to do, and in the next verse he’s about to kill him. Not, “thinking about killing him,” but “about to,” as in “this is on like Donkey Kong.”
I might be the only one who has had a “Wait, What???” Bible verse moment, but if you ever experience one, there are three things you should know:
1. Slow your flow.
It’s not a race. If you catch yourself running over cliffs regularly, chances are you’re speed reading the Bible. Slow down Vin Diesel. No need to get fast and/or furious through Exodus.
2. Version it out.
When I run off a cliff, I immediately check other versions of the Bible. NIV, ESV, KJV, ETC. My coworker recently told me he read that someone had “vanished right before their eyes.” His version made it sound like Phillip had Scott Bakula’d right out of there. We checked multiple versions to figure out the text.
3. Enjoy the pause.
You can read the Bible 1 million times and pick up 1 millions different things. That’s the beauty of the word of God. He’s going to highlight and call out new things each time you crack it open. Don’t think a “Wait, What????” verse is a bad thing. It might be exactly what you need to read.
Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever read the Bible and had a “Wait, What???” moment?
What verse gives you pause?