Except for this chapter, which was necessarily written later, the testimony and the Scripture devotional (“The Words & the Prayers”) sections of this book were first 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 I left home to go to the service. 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—the author of all life who has written our stories.
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, so was the keeping of the 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. Some people may attribute what I did to my mathematical inclinations, but I know that it was all 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. Added up they totaled forty-four distinct books being read: seventeen in the Old Testament and twenty-seven in the New Testament. Looking at the numbers, I counted in my Bible’s table of contents to identify the Bible’s forty-fourth book, which is the Book of Acts. Then I turned to chapter seventeen and read the twenty-seventh verse.
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.