So, I read the Bible through in 9 days. Before you go putting me on a religious pedestal or peer down into the pit of pride you may perceive me to have fallen into, let me say this:
While I began the book of Genisis for some reasons that weren’t so great …
- I had agreed to forgo television and social media for awhile and literally felt like I had nothing else to do but read the Bible.
- Afraid I would cheat on the aforementioned agreement, I set a personal goal of reading the Bible, knowing that for me, stubborness would trump temptation.
- I felt guilty for being 27 years old and never having read the Bible in its entirety.
*I don’t recommend any of these motivations for reading God’s Word, and wish I had begun out of a pure heart.
By the time I reached the book of Revelation, God had taken my measly, pride-ridden, guilt-driven offering and turned it into a real hunger for His Word that I hadn’t experienced in a long time. Maybe never. Because I read from beginning to end with very little time gap and hardly anything to divide my attention, I saw the Story in a whole new way. Thank God for His grace!
Since then, I’ve felt the tug of busyness and distraction competing for my attention, and this is why I am writing a post about the six times we give up on the Bible too soon–often just before we would’ve discovered something amazing.
1) When someone does something that seems illogical
Ever read a story from the Old or New Testament and thought, “Huh? Why did they do that?”
This was my reaction every time I’ve ever heard or read the story of Jacob and Esau from Genesis 25. Twins born to a Jewish patriarch, the boys were raised knowing that the birthright–a double portion of the inheritance, not to mention the blessing passed down through God’s covenant with Abraham–was firmly and rightfully placed in firstborn Esau’s hands. And Esau sold it for soup? Seriously? My older-sibling, type-A, ambitious personality can hardly fathom the ludicracy of it all. Issac might’ve laughed had he not favored Esau so much. (Issac. Laughed. See what I did there? Ha!)
But don’t we do much the same thing? We are heirs to the same promise, grafted into Abraham’s family tree and endowed with every spiritual blessing because of Christ (Gal. 3:30; Eph. 1:3), yet we often squander it all away to gratify the “hunger pains” that cry out for what is pleasing in the moment.
There is the picture of the depth of our human weakness and the degree to which we need Jesus. I didn’t see it until I really gave that bowl of soup a hard look.
2) When your first thought is, “I’ve read that before”
John 3:16 anyone? It’s synonymous with Christianity and is perhaps the most well known Scripture in the Bible–so much so that I almost skip over it at times, speed reading on to the next verses and chapter. But the passage is familiar and beloved for a reason. In only 25 words, it shouts the best news the world has ever heard, clearly relaying the character of a God so often misunderstood.
God loved, and so He gave His best that we might live.
It’s worth reading again.
3) When you can’t find the answer you are looking for
Where should I go to college? Why does God seem to condemn those to Hell who have died never having heard the name of Jesus? How can I get my 2-year-old to eat more than just yogurt and chicken nuggets?
We may not find the detailed answers in black and white among the Bible’s pages, but consider this: Is there a better place to search than the venue chosen by the Creator of the universe to reveal Himself, through His Son, by the illumination of His Spirit?
It is in Scripture that we find context for decision making, insight into hard questions, peace for what must–for now–be left unanswered, and wisdom (coupled with patience) to handle everyday life.
4) When it seems irrelevant or over your head, and it would be easier to pick up a self-help book
Ever tried reading through Psalms when you are feeling particularly happy or sad? Sometimes it seems like the psalmist’s emotional roller coaster is on a collision course with my own. Then there are the times when my brain hurts trying to decipher the meaning of something the Apostle Paul wrote. Or, I feel so out of touch with historical people and places that I consider whether I could more easily find what I’m looking for in something by David Platt or Beth Moore (two authors who have often helped me uncover Biblical truth but whose books should never substitute for the Bible itself).
We’re talking about growing pains, and stopping there is like tripping over the first hurdle only to swear off track and field for good. It’s throwing out a frappachino from Starbucks because you’ve only tasted whipped cream so far. Or being Thomas Edison and quitting right before you invent the lightbulb.
No, this is the time to pray, “Holy Spirit show me the truth in this Book and how You would have me apply it today.”
5) When you don’t like what it says
Early in my 9-day Bible marathon, I came across Leviticus 27, which talks about dedicating people to the Lord by giving an offering equal to the “value of that person.” The chapter goes on to list the “value” of men, women, and children at various ages, and I immediately began to think of my 2-year-old daughter. Under the law, and taking into account the tendency of that culture to shun and devalue anyone with a disease, my daughter would not have come out on top. In fact, as a young female with a visible disorder, she would’ve been considered the lowest of the low.
My daughter is beyond precious to me, and I would give my life for her, so you can see how my sensibilities were riled by what I read in Leviticus. For a moment, I was tempted to close the Book right then and there.
I’m glad I kept reading, because I eventually came to the part where Jesus demands that the little children–even the girls–be allowed to come to Him because “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matt. 19:14).
Then Jesus did something that gave my daughter (and all of us) undeniable and irrevocable worth: He died in our place.
This, I knew, but it gained more meaning after Leviticus showed me just how great a deficit Jesus purchased all of us from. How very highly He must think of us!
6) When you read something that doesn’t jive with your current world view
As a woman, it’s really easy to read about husbands laying down their lives for wives. Because I have a husband who does this beautifully and I’ve learned to trust Christ in him, I welcome the idea of Biblical submission too. But women being silent in church, wearing headcoverings, and avoiding braided hair and costly jewelry–they don’t always sit well with my more “progressive” way of looking at the world. Google any of these issues, and you’ll encounter a lively debate about what the Bible is or isn’t saying.
The temptation is to scroll through the search results until we find a point of view that we like or that matches with what we’ve previously been taught.
But since there is more than plenty in the Bible that I don’t have “all figured out,” my challenge to myself and to you is this:
Let’s let every question that lingers, every idea that brings on a feeling of imbalance–drive us to our knees so that we can come to the One who wrote every Word, and in all humility ask, “Father, show me YOUR way.”
The reality is that we often shortchange our own experience with the Bible by not giving the Holy Spirit enough time to guide us to Biblical treasure. Our short attention spans and lack of perceverance are such that He can hardly get the shovel into our hands, let alone help us dig for truth. So, we end up sifting from the surface only a fraction of what could’ve been unearthed, and this does little to fuel an enduring desire for the Word of God. My prayer is not that I would read the Bible in 9 days again, but rather this:
“Oh, that I would meditate on Your Word and find truth that will spur my soul to search again and again.”
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