Reading the Bible is easy. Understanding the Bible is much more difficult. Sometimes it feels like we have to have the perfect storm to get anything from the Bible. My attitude has to be right, the version has to be right, the coffee has to be right, my journal has to be right, etc. It takes the culmination of all these things to make reading the bible, seem less daunting. It can’t be too early in the morning or you won’t follow along and it can’t be too late at night or you’ll fall asleep. Is this just me or do you have these problems, too?
I am pretty confident that everyone struggles with this so what’s the end result? I am confused by what I read or kicking myself for not reading or frustrated because other people seem to read and understand the Bible more easily than me. In this post I want to share the things that I have been doing lately to help me understand what I read and make me want to read more.
It starts, like most things, with making it a priority. I have decided that I am going to read first thing in the morning, and yes, sometimes I have to stop for a short catnap before I finish. But because I realize this is an issue I don’t set a huge goal for how much I am going to read every morning. Right now, I read a single chapter each day. So far, that is working for me but I can tell you that I have tried this before it did not go as well. Sometimes we just aren’t in a place where reading the bible everyday is going to be sustainable. It has to be intentional and you have to make time for it. Do I miss days? Yes. Do I let it keep me from picking up where I left off? No.
Another thing that has helped tremendously is listening to a Message translation of the passage that I read. For instance, I am reading Romans 10 in my NIV version, when I get done I open my Bible app and listen to the Message version. The two, together, help me understand the chapter. When I understand it I feel better about reading and I don’t have to keep going to God in prayer asking, “what the heck did I just read?” Or better than that, avoiding God because you’re embarrassed!
The last thing I want to note here is something that I still have problems with. My advice to you is not to read with expectancy. I know that we are to have faith and look to the bible for wisdom and advice and all the other things, but to me that just sets it up to be something that it isn’t. We put God in a box at that point and tell him to speak to us in the exact words we want to hear. I have been doing a much better job of just showing up. I will ask God to speak through his word but I don’t necessarily ask for anything in particular. Remember, your schedule is not important. God is in charge so let it Him do His thing. Our job is to pray, read, reflect, ask questions, etc. but I don’t think we should go fishing for the next, best verse every time we read the Bible. Odds are, you will be disappointed because sometimes you won’t understand and sometimes the message won’t speak to where you are in life but that does not mean it is not relevant to your life as a whole. Stop expecting every word of the Bible to be life altering. Like all books, some parts are just transitions. What I am finding to be true is that God likes consistency and He will show up in scripture. Let it be a happy surprise when He does.
I’d love to know how you approach scripture. Do you have a trick that could help someone? Do you struggle like everyone else? Maybe your struggle is different and someone needs to hear about it. Share with the class, please.