Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Confession Time: Bible Reading

Okay, confession time.

I didn't even know it was Ash Wednesday and that Lent was upon us until last night. I started giving things up for Lent a few years ago as a matter of trying to put myself into situations where I would have to see God to move forward. I gave up ebay for Lent a couple of years of the best experiences I can recall and very hard for me. And last year, I gave up beer, which was not such a big thing. I had mentally prepared to give up drinking all-together...a very trite choice, really, which was based more on the desire to be able to say to other people, like Spurgeon did about his cigars, that I had no problem giving it up.

However, when Hubby came home last night and informed me that Super Tuesday was also Fat Tuesday, I got thinking about something the Holy Spirit has been prompting me about recently.

I guess I decided more to take something up for Lent than give something up...

I'm going to try to read the Bible.

I actually googled, "I don't read my Bible" and found nothing except, "I should read my Bible" or "You should read your Bible." I'm guessing I am in good company. And so even though some of you are judging me big time right now, most of you, I'm guessing, are in exactly the same place as I am.

For those of you who don't know, my earliest memory was in church. I have earned my Meritorious Award from AWANA Clubs International, which means I have memorized over 600 verses...which I can still recall a lot of. I attended Christian school from Kindergarten through 12th grade and I have a Bachelor of Science in Bible from an accredited Bible college. I have attended Bible studies, led Bible studies and started Bible studies.

But currently, and for the last couple of years, I don't read my Bible. I feel a little ashamed to say that, mostly because of what other Christians think of me.

I imagine some of you are compiling a list of all the verses that say we should read the Bible every day. Ok. Maybe that's a good start for me.
But what about all the good and faithful Christians over the centuries who didn't have a Bible? Were they sinning? Or are you saying that because I do have a Bible (or six), I'm sinning if I don't read it every day? I know all the cliches....if I really loved God, I would make time for him. If it was important to me, I would do it instead of eating or watching tv. I am impervious to this rhetoric. Don't make me say why...I just am.

I flat out don't know what I think about it. I flat out don't know why reading your Bible everyday is such an obsession with so many Christians. I guess familiarity with the Bible has bred contempt...not so much for God's word, but for what people say I should do with God's word. In the last few years, I guess, I just have felt like my life was so totally out of balance between what I knew from the Bible and what I actually lived out. Between what I took in and what I did with it. Between my "getting something from God" and my actually listening to Him. Between checking off my "to do" list and having a personal relationship with God.

I know about the stories of people who desperately need and want the Bible. And I love those stories. I love the missionaries who translate and do that hard ministry. They are doing a great thing. People really do need the Bible. I believe that whole-heartedly.

I just...when I open the Bible, I hear so many voices...not God's voice, but other people's. They are so self-righteous and ugly voices that I avoid opening the Bible so that I don't have to hear them. Many of the voices are wearing ugly suits and ties and hurting people terribly. And the voices conflict...each one saying what they believe and how it must be true and everyone else is wrong...Which means my only choice is to delve into an academic, methodical study, which overwhelms me. I really believe that a lot of Christians have made the Bible their God.

I'm not bored by the Bible. I love the Old Testament. I'd love to hear a series through Leviticus. I love the insights that Robb and A bring to sermons and how they apply it in ways I never thought of before. I know there is much that I have not learned yet. But I feel saturated with the Bible. Top-heavy. Bloated.

So for the last couple of years, I have stepped back from information gathering about this God of mine, and tried to just really feel the discomfort of being human without trying to slap some scriptural band-aid on every wound. I have no hunger whatsoever to learn anything more about the Bible unless my learning it has direct benefit on the lives of people around me.

I know that I am not alone. If reading the Bible everyday is something God wants me to do, I want to do it. More than anything I want to love reading the Bible like other Christians have said they do. I am on an honest search for answers to this perplexing question for me.

Maybe it is simply a matter of the pendulum swinging too far in one direction or another. Maybe it's time for balance in my life. I hope so. I'm excited to see what the next 40 days hold for me and my journey. I hope that it is helpful to you too.


12-arrows said...

its a struggle for me too, and I am a pastors wife. I don't think its something I admit too often either. I have found "The Message Bible" to be extremely helpful in understanding. Maybe you could start with Romans 4. I had to read that passage for a Bible Study, everyday for 12 weeks. OMG did God use it in my life in so many ways and reading it over and over and over was amazing. I was always hit with a new truth each time. I still love the book of Romans to this day. Oh, I am not telling you how to read it by the way, just thought maybe it might be a good place to start. I will be praying for you as you begin this journey, and know that Satan will be right behind you trying to get you to believe his ridiculous lies. . . .You go Girl!!! kick his butt. . .

H said...

Ness, when I opened your blog I couldn't believe what I was reading. I have struggle for the last two years with this identical crisis. Raised in the Bible, read, read, and read, the Bible. Seen so many pervert the Bible... Result... closing my Bible. But in the last few weeks I've been truly convicted that it isn't working. So three days ago I made a silent vow to read the Bible again on a regular basis. It has been hard to do, but I truly feel that this is somehow a step towards reconnecting with my God. My relationship with him has been a confusing thing of late. Hang in there I think we are both supposed to.

gerbmom said...

great post. I'm right there beside you....

Heidi said...

Its interesting that you posted this...I had a very similar conversation with myself last night.

Sure, I'm giving up Starbucks and red meat, but honestly thats because I'm gaining enough weight these days as it is. I decided that doing something specific would be so much better this time than not doing something.

I realized earlier this year that maybe its ok to not have my daily "quiet time". I've seen so many people who must check that off their daily list, some piously, others not so much. I too grew up in church, heck, my grandfather was a Baptist pastor til the day he died. Rather than fret over reading I decided I needed to take what I knew and apply it to my life. If I'm reading the Bible and it isn't changing my life, what am I wasting my time for?

I could go on and on about this. I won't bore you though. My lent will be spent reading...I've specifically chosen the various accounts of the days leading up to Christ's crucifixion and the events that follow. I'm looking forward to it.

akr said...

It's so great to not feel alone in this! I always did my devos growing up but it really became more rote than anything else and even now if I have a system it seems more about getting through it than enjoying it. I want to make an effort to be silent. I think that is really what will help me to focus and really meditate instead of doing an assignment.

I also have the bible in chronological order and i love it because it makes so much more sense to read the psalms david wrote while he was running while you are reading about him running. It's also in NIV so it sounds different which helps me since I always read nasb.

tammi said...

tsk, tsk....I just finished my daily 5am morning "devotions" (because I'm so "devoted" to God I arise early to make time with him and read Guideposts while I sip coffee) and I'm appalled.

JUST JOKING. Ho ha hee hee.

You're in like company here (as usual).

Hi, I'm tammi and I haven't cracked open my Bible in 5 years.

Katharine said...

Hi! I found your blog from your hilarious comment on PW's blog: "I'm not even a Christian before 8 a.m." Hilar!!
I, too, am a pastor's wife. And I need to read my Bible. I've just read a bit of your blog, but you are not alone.
Let me encourage you, that any desire we have for God or His word is by His grace. I can't even slightly lean toward Him without His grace in my I rejoice for the littlest things, even just five minutes to read the Bible.
He will meet you. He wants you WAY MORE than you want Him...isn't that astounding?!
I'll be checking in later...thanks for your transparency. And, by the way, to put your mind at ease, I'm not an axe murderer. I'm a lot of things...but not that. :)

klasieprof said...

I have found that reading online has been helpful to me. Somehow, its less intimidating than hefting the ole leather bound down.

Amber said...

Ditto. Thanks so much for being so honest and giving those of us who are less courageous a voice. :)

MaLady said...

Hi! I found your blog the same way Katherine did - I think I'm not even Christian before 9 am, myself.

I can so relate to what you said about all the other voices that make you close the Bible. I'm at a stage where I want to throw away the others' voices and see if I'll hear the real one...if I'm more inspired by the group mentality or a true relationship.

God bless. I'm sure I will drop by again in the future.

akr said...

I see God a lot more in my relationships with others sometimes than my bible study.

Oh...and I definitely think we should start a real pastor's wives club...the non piano playing, alto singing, pantyhose and heels wearing, wonderful homemaker,got have the hair perfect wife.

Amy Lynn said...

Hello! I know you dont know me, but I am a friend of Tammi's. I just wanted to let you know that your post inspired me to try to read my Bible during Lent also. I havent opened it in quite a few years and I would like to get in the swing of studying scripture again.

Thanks for your post!

Lutz Family in OK said...

I might as well stop lurking around and put your mind at ease as well... I found your blog some time ago when Heidi linked to you, and now when none of my family/friends update their blogs, I check yours via links from Heidi's or my mother-in-law's blog (Cindy). So, yes, I read your blog, no, I am not a creepy/critic. You have a wonderful writing style that is easy to read and relate with.

As for Bible reading...I didn't really do much of it when I was younger and don't have a wealth of memorized verses tucked away. But as most of your commenters said, its not so much the 'reading' of the word as the 'living' of it.

nice to finally introduce myself, now if you notice me lurking around you won't be alarmed! =)

ness said...

Wow. I guess I'm REALLY not alone : )

It was nice of ya'll to come out of lurking...I see in the light of day that you are not scary people at all : )

So I haven't read yet today, because I was out thrifting, but I suddenly feel some accountability. This is going to be a really interesting experiment!


I haven't read my Bible forever, and guess what? I'm happier. It has nothing to do with God but the people who ruin organized religion and thoughts, straying so far from spirituality.

Jess said...

I could have written that post!Here's my story about something along those same lines...

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