I have a confession to make…
I’m really bad at reading the Bible.
Now, I’m not saying I don’t like the Bible. I do. I really do. I love God and am thankful for His Word. I believe the Bible is real, that it’s words are truth and have the power to transform lives. I genuinely do have a deep affection for the Bible, kind of like the affection one may have toward a grandmother they are unsure how to confidently interact with, but still love her deeply because she is family.
That kind of describes how I feel about the Bible. I love it, care for it, believe in it, but am not always sure how to best interact with it.
And I try. I am a Type A, follow the schedule person, so you better believe I set aside time every morning to read the Bible. So, my problem is not getting there, but how to best go about it. What usually happens is I sit there, read a few verses, and then accidently start thinking about the dishes sitting in the sink. And then I can’t stop thinking about the dishes, so I promise myself to quickly go put them in the dishwasher and then come back. So I do, but when I get back, I start thinking about the laundry molding in the washer that should probably be moved to the dryer. So I move the laundry over and on my way back I notice all the food in the kitchen, which reminds me that I haven’t made breakfast yet and my stomach is growling.
You see my problem.
Or sometimes I am really disciplined and ignore the to-do list that is running through my head, and successfully read through and meditate on an entire passage. Victoriously I close my Bible, relishing in my accomplishment, and then five minutes later I can’t tell you a single thing I just read.
And I know there’s tons of methods and options out there. I did the S.O.A.P thing for a while, I’ve read commentaries, I try journaling and reflecting on what I’ve read, I try memorizing the key verse in a chapter or books, I sometimes journal written summaries of what I’ve read, and I’ve done a few She Reads Truth studies (and I can’t be the only person who skims the verses and jumps straight into the devotional portion).
All of these are good things that are worth doing. They really are. But for some reason I always end up at the same place of frustration and feeling like a lousy Christian who just isn’t that great at reading the Bible.
If you are a person who naturally feels at ease navigating the Bible and easily comprehends God’s truth, that is amazing. I wish I were more like you.
But if you are more like me, someone who has a sincere desire to learn and try, but always ends up feeling a little awkward handling God’s Word, here are a few thoughts I have for people like us:
Take the pressure off
I think it is natural to feel shame or guilt as a Christian to admit we aren’t awesome at reading the Bible. But guilt and shame are opposite of the gospel, so stop it right now. God still loves us.
Just do it
Sometimes it feels like we have to have the right plan in place, the perfect study, an insightful commentary, life-changing discussion questions, colorful highlighters, and a cool journal to go along with it. Not necessary at all. Bite of what you can chew. Just pick something and read it. And read it over and over again until it starts to make sense. Even if you read the same six verses every single day for two weeks in a row, keep reading those same verses until you have a confident understanding of them. And when you’ve been chewing a while, bite off some more.
Commit and keep at it because it is worth it
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
This verse makes me excited to read the Bible, because if we really believe what is being said here is true, we can push through the awkwardness and uncertainty with gladness and passion, knowing there is much reward to be found. And here’s the thing about the Bible; the greatest reward and joy that comes from the Bible is not the Bible itself, but the God who inspired it all.
We read the Bible because we want to know God. The Bible is a primary way God has revealed Himself to us. If it was any other book, we could just give up on it and read something else. But it’s not. The Bible is real and true, alive and active, telling of a God who is redeeming all of creation to Himself through His Son Jesus.
Reading the Bible is not a duty Christians have to fulfill in order to make God love us, but a joy and a privilege we get to experience because God has already loved us.
We get to know God through His Word.
That alone motivates me to be a lover of the Bible. Even when I get distracted, even when it feels frustrating, I know a deep, committed love and study of the Bible is worth every single bit of my time and energy.
So if you are a Bad Bible Reader like me, know you are probably in more company than you think. So don’t give up!
“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” Psalm 119:18
Until next time,