Except for this chapter, which was necessarily written later, the testimony and the Scripture devotional (“The Words & the Prayers”) sections of this book were completed on February 6, 2008, immediately prior to an Ash Wednesday service that was being held at our community Chapel that evening. I quickly downloaded all that I had written onto a thumb drive and put the thumb drive in my pocket before leaving home. Then, during the service, when the time came for me to walk up to the front of the Chapel to receive ashes on my forehead, I pulled out the thumb drive and held it in my hand. As I walked up the center aisle, I said a silent prayer, dedicating all that I had written to God—to whom all belongs anyway.
When I arrived back home after the service, I sat down and opened my Bible to the table of contents. There I had recorded the sequence in which I had been led to read each of the books of the Bible. Studying the list, I counted the number of different books that I had read during the thirty-nine “special readings.” They totaled forty-four: seventeen books in the Old Testament and all twenty-seven books of the New Testament.
I was intrigued. Thirty-nine is the number of stripes (lashings) that Jesus took upon His body for me, and forty-four of the Bible’s sixty-six books is the same two-thirds ratio as was the ratio of angels that remained in heaven after the others were cast down to earth (according to some interpretations of Revelation 12:4). I then realized that as my reading of the Old Testament was incomplete during this event, so was the keeping of its law. Whereas, my complete reading of the New Testament echoed the completeness of the New Covenant in Christ’s blood.
While these “coincidences” were interesting, what happened next removed any thought of “coincidence” from my mind. Though some people may attribute what I did to my mathematical inclinations, I know that it was all being directed by God.
Consider what God achieved in having me read specific books of the Bible on thirty-nine occasions, reading some books once and others multiple times, so that they totaled exactly forty-four distinct books—seventeen in the Old Testament and twenty-seven in the New Testament. I then looked at the numbers and decided to count through the Bible’s books to learn which book is forty-fourth, and I found that it is the Book of Acts. Then I turned to the seventeenth chapter and found the twenty-seventh verse. God boiled down all that I had read in the Bible to this:
God did this so men would seek him
and perhaps reach out for him and find him,
though he is not far from each one of us.
Praise God that He did!