I have been falling in love with the Bible recently, and it is changing my life.
It started on DTS. Well, I’m sure it started earlier than that, but perhaps it’s when I most acutely started to notice.
I was trying to decide whether or not I wanted to stay on for more time at my base. It had been one of the most difficult seasons in my life already, but I thought perhaps God wanted me to stay longer, to persevere or adjust my attitude or push through or, well, something.
That’s entirely a different post.
Anyway, I was trying to figure out what God wanted me to do with my life, a “calling,” as it were (a term I increasingly dislike, but that’s another post as well. I digress). And I wanted to know what God wanted me to do, but I was also terrified that He was going to make me stay longer when I really wanted to go home. So, what did I do?
Googled it, of course.
Not what God wanted for me specifically obviously, but articles on calling or how to know what God is saying to you. Every quiet time I had, I was searching the web, trying to find something that God would use to tell me what He wanted. I had been afraid for a while that if I read my Bible I would just find something else I was doing wrong. I would read sections on the wicked or those with false intentions and think it applied to me. I was going to be the one gnashing my teeth out in the dark, the one Jesus never knew. And even though I knew staying longer at my base might just be me trying to earn grace, to prove I loved God enough, I was also frightened of what might happen if I was too “weak” to stay.
In case you haven’t picked up on it already, that wasn’t what God was trying to say, and the true source of those thoughts was not a good one.
In any case, I knew that no matter what I chose, I couldn’t keep avoiding my Bible forever, so I pushed through my fear and started to read.
Lo and behold, there wasn’t a verse in there outlining my life plan and everything I was doing wrong to prevent it from fruition. In fact, the more I actually read my Bible, the more I realized how misguided my whole understanding of the situation had become. And, the more comforted and confident I became of following my heart and going home.
Phase one of learning to love my Bible and actually go to it directly, check.
Phase two began with the Bible Project. I’ve mentioned them a couple times already, but they’re a non-profit dedicated to teaching about the Bible and revealing how it all points to Jesus. And while I love their explanatory videos on the Bible’s different books or themes, some of the most valuable takeaways I’ve gotten from their work have been lessons in learning how to read my Bible. Some of that involves the different types of literature in it, some of it in how the historical context affects things, structure, finding themes, and even literally, how to read it. Mainly, out loud and in large pieces. I’ve also realized more fully that it’s okay to wrestle with the Bible and its beautiful complexity as a literary work. Two particularly useful analogies that have helped with this have been the concept of the Bible’s structure as a grocery store (just as you can get a general sense of where things might be in relation to each other in the aisles, so too with themes or topics in the Bible), and the idea of reading over your Bible with the same mulling intensity of a bear with a good meal (I don’t remember when or how this idea came up, but both are featured in recent episodes of their podcast), specifically as the noises a bear makes while enjoying food relating to our reading the bible out loud and taking the same pleasure and nourishment from it.
All of this has radically changed my relationship with my Bible, and God. In the past, I would look up other people’s opinions on how God works and speaks and struggle to read my Bible for fear that it would just tell me what I was doing wrong or that I wouldn’t feel or sense enough. I would assume I already knew what it had to say, so I wouldn’t read it at all, or at least not to any great depth.
Now I approach it knowing that I really don’t know everything it has to say. I know that if I want to hear from God reading the Bible is actually the easiest way to do it. I know it’s not only okay, but a pleasure to work through what it’s trying to say, and I no longer read it expecting condemnation, but love, and am seeing it in the words. I am no longer afraid to suddenly find out that God has the characteristics I most fear He might have, but am finding Him more and more attractive the more I read. I get more out of my reading, am challenged in healthy, uplifting ways, and am learning to really cherish and take pleasure in the time I get to spend with Him.
Jesus says in Matthew 4:4 “…It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” I thought about that verse while reading my Bible today, and was so glad to be fed.
So, what’s your journey with the Bible been like? Have you ever wrestled with it, or avoided it? When have you been surprised by it or realized you had things wrong? Have you ever had misconceptions about God, His character or how He speaks? How did you turn around or realize? Who’s helped you on the way?