Handling the Bible

I flipped open that ancient book. Found the passage for the day- something I’d already read a bazillion times before. Read it like a dry piece of toast. Put the book away, and started my day.

The thought crossed my mind, “Is it always going to be this way?” Is reading the Bible always going to feel like sifting through a bunch of red beads, trying to find that one ruby?

And there were days that I feasted. I read and was tremendously filled with truth. The thought occurred, “I must be doing it right now.” Days later, I’d be right back at the dry toast stage.

Highs and lows are part of the Christian life. I assumed it was true in all things- even looking at God’s Word. Passages I loved would always hit their mark, and books like poor Leviticus… well, I tried.

I tried doing different techniques- SOAP, Manna, inductive study, writing out Scripture, reading different books…. but the cycle remained.

When the kids started school, I decided to throw method out the window. I bought a new Bible in a different-but-reliable translation. One with no study notes. No cross referencing. Nothing to distract me.

Starting at Genesis, I decided to simply read the Bible as I would read a book. I put away all my preconceived ideas and approached Scripture as if it was my first time reading it. I started reading God’s word with fresh honesty.

I still have access to Bible helps, but only approach them as needed. A notebook and pen are at my side to “flesh out” what I see- writing solidifies concepts in my mind, so it’s a must for me.

Something has happened as I approached Scripture from this mindset- I am consistently overwhelmed in the best way possible. The overriding themes in the Bible shout at me. The tedium of the law shows me the character of God. The gospel has become more precious and applicable in ways I had never considered before.

This mindset continues. I am eager to dig into the Word and rarely leave the table of Scripture with out being satisfied. Usually, in those rare instances of continued hunger, it is more my heart or schedule or distractions that prevent me- God’s Word is not the issue.

Sometimes, I think we put a lot of pressure on our Bible reading time. That we can “get it wrong” and it has to look a certain way. If we aren’t sweating and straining over what we read, we are not doing it right. If we don’t feel different after devotions, we missed something. So we make it complicated, because adding unnecessary steps to a simple process is a virtue, isn’t it?

Another struggle in Bible study often comes in the mindset that we’ve read this all before, hear it preached every week, sing it in song even. We mistakenly think that this book is limited in scope and how it really pertains to our lives. We doubt it’s power.

Here’s the beauty of this fresh honesty approach: it doesn’t really require you to “try harder”, to “be more spiritual”, or even to spend extra time that you really don’t have. This teachable attitude allows the Holy Spirit to do the speaking- not your old Bible teacher or that trendy podcaster or that author you just read. They can still be helpful, but they are not the authority.

Shifting our view to make God’s Word the authority is vital. It helps our discernment- determining what is true and false. This notion makes us read with confidence in the truth that the Bible alone is sufficient- God gave it to us for our benefit. Cherishing the sufficiency of Scripture helps us bury the words deep within our souls, because we are getting the nourishment we need from the Creator and Keeper of our souls.

As for me, remembering that I am a life long student of God has dramatically changed my posture from one of duty to an insatiable desire. I want to know my Creator, my Savior, my King. So yeah, I read the Bible and listen to podcasts and read books and discuss what I am learning with anyone who will listen. I cannot get enough.

Why? Because I know that God is reshaping me through His Word. Sanctification is not always a pleasant process, but it is exciting and real and totally worthwhile. I am not a super Christian because of this- no, I actually see more of my own wretchedness. But I also see the transformation. And I want other people to experience what I have experienced. What I am still experiencing.

It is possible, friend. Changing how you approach the Word can make a marked difference in your life. It doesn’t require an expensive course, a new mentor or a major life change. Just sit, open that ancient book, and read with eyes of a devoted student. You will not be disappointed.

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