If you have ever made a retreat, you’ve experienced the struggle.
We spend a weekend, or sometimes more, in dedicated quiet, prayer, and learning. We experience the spiritual high of doing so. And then we return home, back to the “real world” which is so busy, loud, frenetic, and disconnected from quiet, prayerful contemplation.
There is no perfect way to avoid the valley after the high. We can’t all be on retreat all the time – the world needs us out there to help others find a relationship with Christ and to teach others how to unplug, pray, and quiet their soul.
We do, however, have one favorite way of returning from retreat without the major crash, and that is the “Scriptural Narrative.”
The Bible is a massive book. There are so many stories, and there is so much context that we just don’t naturally understand two thousand years later and a half world away.
We know we should be reading the Scriptures, but it is daunting. We may get motivated and try. You sit down, open to Genesis and start reading. Maybe just a chapter a day. It may even go really well for a while. You get through Genesis and then Exodus, and you’re picking up momentum.
Then you get to Leviticus. That momentum hits a brick wall.
What in the world is going on? It is dense, dry, and there doesn’t seem to be much of a story.
Well, that’s because it isn’t really a story. It isn’t part of the “narrative” of Scripture, but rather a supplemental book. In a modern book you might find it in the appendices.
But that is not how the Bible is laid out.
There are actually fourteen books, interspersed throughout the Bible, that make up the narrative story in the Bible, from creation and Adam and Eve through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ and the actions of the first apostles.
If you read these fourteen books in order you will get a linear story, with the rest of the books in the Bible supplementing that story in some way.
The great coincidence of the narrative story of these fourteen books is that it covers, in total, 364 chapters. Is it coincidence, or providential?
If you read one chapter a day you will cover the entire narrative in a year. Two chapters a day, six months. Four chapters a day, three months.
The story never runs dry, either. You can read the narrative a chapter a day for the rest of your life, covering the story dozens of times, and you will find something new and meaningful each time. You will make more connections and help the Scriptures, and your understanding of God, come alive.
The fourteen books of the Scriptural Narrative are:
Genesis (50 chapters)
1 Samuel (31)
2 Samuel (24)
1 Kings (22)
2 Kings (25)
1 Maccabees (16)
Dive in, start reading. Read the books in this order, and they will form one long, mostly linear story.
It won’t necessarily be easy to understand at every point, however. There are still confusing points, context that we just don’t have. We have a recommendation for that.
There is one book that we always recommend when it comes to understanding Scripture, and in particular the narrative story of Scripture. It is phenomenally well written and very easy to digest and understand for the average Catholic.
That book is called “Walking With God” by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins
We cannot recommend highly enough that you read through the relevant section of Walking With God just before tackling each new book of the narrative story of Scripture.
You will get much more out of your reading of Scripture. In fact, you will never look at Scripture the same way again. It will come alive.
As you come out of a time of intense prayer at a retreat, or prepare to make one in the future, give the Narrative Story of Scripture a try.
Have you tried reading through the Bible or the narrative story of Scripture before? How did it go for you?