went through the furnace, I loved God’s Word.
And I valued it immensely. And at
different times in my life, I would immerse myself in it. But at others, I would realize that I didn’t
take it out for weeks. I knew it was
important . . . I just didn’t live like it was important enough to be read every
day. (I’m just being honest
here.) I was so busy with life that I
convinced myself that it was enough to listen to godly music and read godly
books. Scripture was extra. Beneficial, but not as inspiring as music and
inspirational books. And frankly, it was
so familiar that it was boring and just not doing much for me anymore.
And as far as prayer was concerned, when I used to have my insomniac-ish nights, I would lay there and quiet my mind and pray, asking God to speak to me . . . in the hopes that by silencing my mind, I would actually be able to fall asleep. I didn’t really want to hear from Him. I just wanted sleep.
But now, after the furnace, the Word has become so alive to me. And prayer has become a life-line - an intimate, mind-boggling connection to my Heavenly Father. In fact, now I find that I have a hard time falling asleep because I don’t want to miss anything that He might want to tell me in the quietness and stillness of my heart and mind. It’s amazing to me that I, a lowly little worm, could communicate with the God who created the heavens and the earth, and that He actually wants to hear from me all the time. It’s very humbling.
And then, I saw how God responded to them and their sins, and I was humbled.
And the New Testament? Well, the New Testament was good. I liked the New Testament! Lots of good advice about living and about pleasing God and information about Jesus and His life. But after being a Christian for over two decades, it was so familiar that it, too, was boring. It was like staring at the back of my hand. I had basically lived with it my whole life, and I couldn’t find any new inspiration in it anymore. All I would have to hear were the first three words of a passage and I’d be like, “Yeah, yeah, I know that one.” The Bible was not consistently alive to me . . . yet!
I think in our day and age of being too familiar and comfortable with God and His Word, we have lost the sense of awe and fear of God and His Word. It’s too familiar, and we are too comfortable. We have heard these stories again and again. And so we take giant gulps of Scripture without really meditating on it, and we check it off our list and get on with our day. Or we pick it apart so that we can piece it back together again in a way we like better, twisting it for our own ends.
We have lost the ability to put ourselves into the stories. To see God for who He really is. To stand with the Israelites at the foot of the mountain when they trembled at the powerful voice of God. We need to start seeing ourselves in the stories and in the people of the Bible if we are to learn from them, if we are to understand what God wants us to know through them and to let it change our lives and our hearts (instead of just educating our minds). So many people can know the Bible forward and backward without ever meeting God there.
And, sadly, I know lots of people who are in that same place that I’ve been in (and that I still find myself in from time to time). They say things like, “Oh, I know I should read my Bible more, but . . . Well, I guess I need to try to get up earlier or something. It’s just so hard with my job … or the kids … or whatever.”
Unfortunately, many of us have scars and fears that put up walls around our hearts to keep them “safe,” even from God. These stem from hurts in our past and misconceptions that we developed a long time ago. (Which we will explore later.) But these walls prevent us from trusting others enough to relax around them, to let them into our hearts and lives. Even with God. They compel us to be nothing less than completely self-sufficient and in-control, and they cause us to try to earn our way with others. Even with God. And that prevents our relationship with the Lord from being all that it should be.
(And just so you know, I don’t always succeed at reading it as much as I wish I did, even now. It’s a daily journey and battle sometimes because life is busy. I have four young children at home, and that is a full-time job in itself. But what’s different now is that I am convicted when I don’t read it. I feel like something in my life is missing. And I seek to rectify it, instead of making up some excuse or rationalization. And I do have a passion, a love, and a hunger for the Word that I never did before. I meet God in the pages now, instead of just reading about Him. And that’s what’s different about it now.)
(A numb conscience is a dangerous thing. You are putting out a “welcome mat” for disaster in your spiritual life.)
Once you learn that you meet the living, holy God in the words of His Book, you will not want to go too long without it. You will be driven to it. You will discover an insatiable hunger and thirst for meeting God in the Word and in prayer. You will want to dig deeper to uncover all the treasures you can find. You will be driven to find the Bible’s answers to life’s questions. And you will become protective of your time with Him.
But this should not stop those of us who have the Word from placing a premium on the Word. If people who do not have the Word can live by the moral code that God has placed in their hearts, how much more should we who have the additional revelations of God in His Word live by what He has revealed to us? We will all be accountable, I believe, for what we do with the revelations we have received, whether natural, heart-felt revelations or scriptural.
But to answer the first question . . . Yes, you can still be a good Christian without daily Bible reading. But is “good” enough? Are we content with “good” doctors, “good” school systems, “good” pastors, “good” friendships, “good” marriages? So why would we think that God is satisfied with “good” Christians?
We don’t just want “good” lives, do we? We want fulfilling, deeply satisfying lives. We want to be challenged, to reach higher, to become the best version of ourselves that we can be. We want passion and vibrancy in life. We want to know that there is so much more out there than what we face in our day-to-day, monotonous lives. “Good” is not enough. We want more!
Well, I think that this is God’s desire, too. He wants to see us reaching higher and striving more. He wants us to live passionate, vibrant, wholly-open-to-Him lives. He wants us to live diligently and earnestly. These are qualities that He admires, that He desires to see more of in His followers.
But this kind of passionate, powerful witness does not come from lazy disciplines. It does not just happen in us as we go about our day, letting our Bibles sit in the dust on our shelves and passing up deep times in prayer. We have to pursue Him diligently, in prayer and in His Word. When is the last time that you drank deeply from the Word? That you poured your heart out in prayer?
Humans are incredibly capable of self-deception, of convincing ourselves that we are doing okay on our own or on our current path. This is why the Word is so crucial, not just extra. The Word is the only, absolute Truth that there is. And yet so many of us put it aside thinking that we have a pretty good handle on life. (And look at the moral confusion it is causing nowadays. Even whole churches don’t seem to know what the Bible really says about things.)
But if we are not in the Word, we are nibbling our way lost and growing content with being off-track. The Word is what calls us back to the right path. The Word is what will convict us of areas that need to be addressed, that will show us the higher and more righteous way to live, and that will train our hearts and minds in Truth. Without regular use of it, you can bet that you are off-track. But you won’t know it. Is ignorance really bliss?
Make a commitment to meet with God through prayer and the Word daily. Set aside a certain amount of time daily and keep it for at least one month and see how your life changes. Read it to meet God in it, not just to check it off your To Do list. Read it with these questions as filters: What does it teach me about God today? What does it teach me about myself today? And how can I apply it to my life?
I, for one, think it is best to read it in the morning, before your day begins. It’s kinda like tithing. God asks for the first-fruits, the best of what you have. And so it makes sense to give Him the first-fruits of our day, too; the best time, when we are fresh and receptive and not busy with the next task at hand. And I think this is a general teaching in the Bible, too.
Psalm 5:3: “In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation.”
Here is a challenge, if you really think that you are too busy to read the Bible: Take stock of your day and see how many wasted moments there are. Moments that you are waiting in line or on the train or in the car (as a passenger, of course.) Could you bring a pocket Bible with you to read during these times? (Or have a passage written down on a notecard that you carry around with you.)
Or think about all the time you spend doing worthless, unproductive, and possibly unglorifying things. Give serious thought to how you spend your time. What TV shows do you watch? What books or magazines do you read? What kind of web-surfing or on-line stuff do you do? How about hobbies? Would a little of that time be better spent in the Word?
Do you know that if you watch a one-hour television show every day for a year, you’ve just spent 21,900 minutes filling your head with unnecessary, temporary (most likely unglorifying) stuff? But setting aside fifteen minutes every day to read the Bible is too much for your schedule? In one year, that would be just 5,475 minutes. 5,475 minutes out of 525,600 minutes for an entire year. Replace one half-hour show (or a half-hour on the phone or computer) with the Bible and you would be spending 10,950 minutes a year getting to know God. I can’t think of a better use of nearly 11,000 minutes! 11,000 minutes investing in your relationship with God!
1. Finish this sentence: “To me, the Bible is . . .” (Be honest. And keep answering it until you’ve said all you have to say about it.)
Then do a study and compile all the verse you can find on the importance of God’s Word. Write them down and go through each one, praying that the Holy Spirit gives you insight about what it should mean to you. (Or go back and read “Chapter 21: Digging Deep” in Child of Mine.) Here are some verses to start with: (And, of course, I’m going to have you look them up yourself.)