The Bible is full of Cinderella verses — plain-looking, hard-working, easily-ignored verses that will one day be unveiled at the grand eschatological ball, blowing us all away with their beauty and significance. It won’t just be the atheists and the agnostics and the rebels standing aghast and amazed at these unveiled truths. We will all realize just how much we missed.
Early on in our respective journeys of faith, we start to realize that there are key verses, key passages, and key books in the Bible. We may be told that they’re especially important and fundamental, but more often we pick it up through the osmosis of religious culture. And you know exactly what I mean — John 3:16; Psalm 23; Romans 8:28; Philippians 2. Tremendous passages, to be sure. But not the only ones that will be showing up at the ball.
In some ways this early neglect is unavoidable, since the order for all of us must be crawl, teeter, walk, then run. The Bible is a massive book telling an intricate story that calls for a lifetime of study. You can only read so much at once, and you can only study one thing at a time. But if we never realize it, we may look around someday and realize that we’ve gone from crawling to running, but we’ve stayed content with the child’s footpath, stepping only on familiar stones of Scripture and allowing the surrounding landscape to remain little more than an unfamiliar jungle (e.g., Ezekiel, or all the Minor Prophets except Jonah).
Are there mountaintop moments in Scripture? Certainly. The authors of Scripture themselves cite certain sections of the sacred writings far more than others. Do these moments deserve our close attention? Absolutely. But mountains are not mountains without valleys, and it takes a plain to have a rise. There’s no exodus without Egypt, no eschatological dawn without exilic darkness, no dawn of the new creation without the pitch black of the Arimathean’s tomb.
There’s glory in this story, and not just the kind that only shows up in the bold colors. All the threads are interwoven, and those that are hardest to trace through the tapesty are actually indispensable in that subtle kind of way. The prophets and the chroniclers and the genealogists and the apostolic off-roaders have plenty to tell us, for those who will gather around and listen well.
So in the new year, go boldly where you’ve never gone before in the sacred book. Dive into the darker parts of the pool. Get back into the biblical languages. Study Jeremiah.
Go back to the verses you skipped, and don’t make Cinderella wait for the ball to be told that she’s beautiful.