Not too many years ago I was still struggling to really enjoy reading the Bible. It wasn’t for lack of trying, but I hadn’t really had the kind of success with it that I wanted. I didn’t want to just read it like a textbook and glean little from it. In one ear out the other kind of thing. I remember being very frustrated with God and praying for clarity, praying for a passion to ignite, whatever it took. I knew reading the Word daily was an important thing to do, but I found myself dreading it. At my worst point I remember feeling as if maybe God didn’t want to talk to me. Ridiculous but I feel when you stand at the door and knock and you aren’t getting an answer you tend to feel like nobody’s home. Or they are home but they aren’t in the mood for visitors.
Luckily that was just a season in my life and I’ve found a groove that words for me. What works for someone else in their Bible is not necessarily going to work for me and vice versa. I think it takes time to figure out what works best for you.
Here are some tips:
1. Test drive different versions of the Bible via the Bible app on your phone or via Bible Gateway on the internet. I find my favorite version is “The Message” just because I’m a writer and so I enjoy the often poetic/unexpected language.
2. I’ve tried on more than one occasion to read the Bible from start to finish. It didn’t work for me. I’ve tried Bible plans on tape. I was still bored. I don’t think the Bible should ever feel like an obligation or something robotic and forced. So don’t feel bad if you are like me and reading straight from the beginning to the end isn’t working for you. I personally either choose topical verses to meditate on for the day i.e. worry, love, etc and I find that speaks to me in the day. I also enjoy devotionals on my Bible app. I’ve completed roughly 5-7 plans on that and it’s a nice snippet to reference each day. Also the Bible app has a verse of the day every day on top of that. I believe it’s quality over quantity. I would personally rather know verses very well and have a visceral reaction to it than be steam rolling through the Bible and have no idea what I read.
3. Try to apply it to your life/what is happening in your day. I.e. If someone says something nasty to you at work and it upsets you– you can pull out Psalm 18:18-20 MSG “When I was in trouble, they attacked me (at work) but the Lord protected me. He helped me out of danger, he saved me because he is pleased with me (even when others around me are not)” or Ephesians 6:10-12 MSG “And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you (me) strong….take everything the Master has set out for you (me)….and put them to use so you (I) will be able to stand up to everything the Devil (my co-workers, my boss, etc) throws your (my) way”. See? I feel like making the scriptures personal like that is helpful. You are writing the scripture into your heart, into your mind, into your mouth, and holding it in your hands.
I think about some of the current trials I am facing in this season of life (a dysfunctional/often verbally abusive home life, my mom’s unemployment, my brother’s mental illness, my difficult work environment, my sometimes loneliness both platonic and romantic) and this image is a reminder of that. However I think in God’s love He allows this desperation to create a soil in your soul that only He can water. Maybe the scriptures now have a chance to go deeper and deeper in your roots so that you will never have to strive to read his Word or to know His character because He let you be dry so that he could restore you. So that you could know very tangibly what it feels like to be without, and then with. To manifest the His power of his Word.
I pray that if you are struggling to get into his Word like I was that you find whatever works for you. God will never give you something that is ill fitting or heavy for you to carry. He WANTS you to live freely and lightly and his Word will give you wings to carry you through your days. I also pray that if He sees fit to bring you through a wilderness so that you will use his Scriptures to create a paradise within your heart that you will allow Him to have His way. Thank you Jesus for your goodness. Thank you for giving us both Your Word and Your Spirit. In Your name I pray. Amen.
Photo Credit: Found on myrecipeforjoy.com