Ten years ago my husband and I moved to a tiny mountain town in California. Hume Lake is Christian camp-slash-mini-town where both of us had worked in the past, but this was our first time living there year-round. It’s a unique, remote mountain hideaway—a truly amazing place. It’s also really far from everywhere. Like, I had to drive an hour and forty minutes to get to Target. Or anywhere. The camp is in the middle of a huge National Park, so there’s no Starbucks, no mall, and no cell coverage. Boondocks, people. I had relocated to the boondocks.
It was a bit of a culture shock when we first moved to Hume Lake, but after a few months I got used to taking a giant cooler with me “down the hill” for grocery shopping; turning my cell phone off for a week or more at a time; and living, working, and going to church with the same small group of people.
What I didn’t realize when I moved there was how much the mountains would get into me. When you spend weeks, months, and years away from freeway traffic, smog, sirens, hustle, fast food, and endless distractions, your soul breathes in a way you didn’t realize it was suffocating. When you learn to watch ducks on a lake for an hour (without getting bored) because you can’t Instagram it, you discover parts of yourself you didn’t know existed. And when twelve-thousand-foot mountains fill your backyard, thunderstorms become summer afternoon entertainment, and the only nighttime lights are more stars that you knew existed, God feels ever-present.
I didn’t realize how much I had changed until we left.
When we moved from the Sierras and once again made our home in a “big city,” I felt like a fish out of water—like my soul was gasping for breath.
My time in the mountains transformed me.
Last week I pulled twelve dusty journals from a box in my basement for some research I was doing for a book. As I thumbed through the story of my life—from ten years old to today—I realized something for the first time. In my tweens and teens, my life was noisy, sprinkled with drama, marked by some poor choices, and filled with questions. But all those years I loved Jesus, and I read God’s Word. Year after year I read His Words to me. Sometimes a verse; sometimes a few chapters. Sometimes daily, sometimes with month-long gaps. But I stuck with it. And something happens when we read God’s Words. The Bible has a way of getting into us. Transforming us.
I’m not the same person I was when I wrote, “Today for my birthday party, we went roller skating,” on the top line in my first peach-colored diary with the gold lock. In the past twenty-four years since I wrote that sentence, God’s Spirit has been working between every line I’ve written—convicting, teaching, and making broken parts of me beautiful. Reading through twenty-four years of life in a few days reminded me how far I’ve come.
That’s why I read the Bible. (Well, one of the reasons, anyway.) Someday, when I pull out forty-two dusty journals from a box in my basement and I look back over the story of my life yet to come, I want to see the way God’s Word has changed me even more. I want to see the ways my soul learned to breath in the middle of all the distractions, how God showed me bits of sin and parts of my character I didn’t know existed. I want to read about the ways God felt ever-present in the storms of life.
Are you with me?
So here’s my challenge: Don’t underestimate the power that daily, faithful Bible reading has to transform your life! It may seem like a waste of time today. You may wonder what good it’s actually doing. But if you keep at it, I promise God’s Words will change you, like three years in a mountain town.
Written by Jessie Minassian