Have you ever been hiking through a forest? I love it.


Recently I was hiking through a forest of redwood trees. I had to keep stopping and studying the individual trees. They're simply awesome.


The Bible actually records that God made trees to be "pleasing to the eye" (Gen. 2:9). They were made for us to stop and appreciate them. To study the leaves and feel the bark.


But, as a recent professor of mine often reminded me, we must balance studying the leaves for seeing the forest.


Indeed, catch a panorama view of a forest and you'll begin to appreciate this. The individual trees come together to make a grand whole.


About a year ago, I learned an application of this lesson. I had quite a bit of free time one Sabbath so I decided to go on a hike and I brought my Bible. I found a little cozy spot and did something I had never done before--I read the gospel according to John. All of it.


I'd been a Christian for a while. I thought I knew what John was all about. I had heard each of the individual stories a dozen times. And had come to a deep appreciation for a number of the individual verses.


Like John 3:16. And John 14:6.


To follow our analogy, I was familiar with the trees. I loved the leaves.


But until that day, I had never thought to see the whole forest.


I still remember the experience of John. The familiar stories came together to tell a grander story. There was a progression and movement that I had never caught before. I saw Jesus more clearly.


In Cross Connection, we've been doing some awesome hiking. Each week, we stop and look at a tree, a chapter or story from Matthew. This gives us time to really appreciate the leaves, those details we might miss otherwise. And occasionally, we catch glimpses of patches of trees. Stories that form units, like the miracles of Jesus. We are reminded that we are in a larger forest.


But have we stopped to stand back and catch a view of the forest as a whole.


I suggest that there's only one way to do this. You ready for it?


Read Matthew.


All of it; in one sitting.


Find a cozy spot, it'll take a couple hours. But trust me, you won't regret it.


Because this isn't about just seeing a forest--it's about encountering the Christ. For when we see Him as He is, we can't help but flee to Him for pardon, purity, and eternal life.

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