I finished the Bible on a flight to Hawai’i, which is fitting, as the final bits of the final book, Revelations, discusses a Heavenly paradise, as I was currently on a plane bound for an Earthly paradise.

There have been a lot of things that have impacted me greatly this year, though reading that book has had the most of any by a long shot. All of our experiences will change us in some way or another, however grand or minute, but reading the Bible does more than that. It doesn’t simply change you, it works through you. It provides a new prism through which to view the world and all that you experience, as if reading it has given your eyes a new lens, a better lens, a brighter lens, a more purposeful lens to see and experience life. And it’s a lens that continues to change as you go back and re-read passages and study them a little further, gleaning new bits of insight you missed on the first go.

All of the experiences you have change, if just a bit. They’re no longer just ephemeral experiences, but experiences that make you wonder: Why? Why did this or that happen?

Everything has a purpose.

If I could sum up my thoughts of the Bible in just a few words, those are it: Everything has a purpose. Reading the Bible every morning – well, most mornings, I don’t want to lie to you here, I did skip a few to read Sports Illustrated because goodness gracious is Leviticus hard to get through – sets the tone for the rest of the day. It puts your mind in the framework of: God’s out there, let’s see what he has in store today.

So everything good that happens? God.

Everything that we initially perceive as bad that happens? God.

What’s the purpose of what just happened?

Reading it has both prepared and helped me trudge through the worst of times. In a trivial sense, it has helped me find the lessons in all losses, the growth in failures. In a more major sense, it helped me, and continues to help me, through the worst of life’s experiences, of which there will be more, because that’s life, and it’s our duty as human beings to respond to it.

It has helped me become grateful for the most minor things – coffee in the morning, the sound of the ocean, the feel of a breeze, peanut butter – and feel somewhat overwhelmed sometimes in gratitude for the major things – my adoring family, the opportunity I have to write and play and talk about beach volleyball for a living.

Is some of this confirmation bias? Or is it all just true?

Is a chance encounter just a chance encounter, or did God put that person in your life for a reason, a reason you may not know until tomorrow or years down the road?

Is life being funny or is God making plans?

I listened to a podcast that discussed confirmation bias once, where the host said: “If you’re driving down a highway and are told to look for yellow cars, you’re going to find more yellow cars.”

The metaphor being: If you’re going through life looking for God, you’re going to find more signs of God.

Confirmation bias? Maybe.

To be honest, after reading the Bible, I really don’t care: I’ve found I thoroughly enjoy looking for yellow cars.

Flipping open the Bible, no matter the book, even that gosh darn Leviticus, will prep your mind to look for those yellow cars. Or at least it did for me. To look for the good that can come from anything – the blessings, in Christian speak – will rewire your brain – and this is actually proven by science – to see the good, which prompts gratitude. Gratitude begets gratitude, which begets more gratitude, which is catnip for your brain, and soon, because your brain loves this so much, it begins automatically seeking the good in everything, or at least the good that could come out of everything.

You find the purpose in everything, however small.

The best part, however, is that reading the Bible makes you want to be the good in things, to produce it yourself. One of the more misunderstood aspects of Christianity is that Christians simply wait around for God to act. A quick flip through the Book of James will change all of that.

He’s all ‘bout that action, James.

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves,” he writes in chapter 1, verses 22-26. “Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in the mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does. If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”

And then, a few verses down, my favorite line in the Bible: “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”

And so I’ll go do.