There was a sort of buzz to the hush that filled the church.
You know the kind. It was the solemn quiet of a group of third graders, filled with respectful silence and also bursting with the need giggle and squirm from nervousness.
Their names were called, and each of them walked, heads held high, to receive their shiny new Adventure Bibles.
On the way back to their parents in the pews, some kids retreated to the safety of anonymity as quickly as they could.
Some walked slowly, the weight of this new stage in life as heavy on their minds as the big new Bible was in their hands.
(At least until after the service when they would chase their sister around the fellowship hall. Ahem.)
It was all so wonderful, so exciting, this gift of the infallible Word of the Living God being placed into the hands of these young people.
I kind of wanted to pull them aside for a moment (before the chasing of the sisters in the fellowship hall...) and tell them this:
Yes, this Bible is a gift that you'll treasure and you'll value and you'll learn so much about God and about yourself in those super-thin pages.
But sometimes, that big old Book in your hands will be so, so hard to read.
The Bible often brings me more questions than answers. The Bible has confused me, challenged me, made me question everything I thought I knew.
I leave it sit, unopened, on my nightstand for weeks. I've had my eyes glaze over with boredom during my 'quiet time.' I feel guilty that I'm not better about spending time in the Word.
I've given up my 'quiet time,' in favor of sleeping in, doing my hair, watching a movie. And I feel guilty that people in other parts of the world give up their lives just to have a chapter of Scripture in their possessions.
I've even forgotten where I put my Bible, sometimes, and have to search the house for it before small group.
I know the Bible is important. I know that.
But how can I translate that knowledge to my heart, and then to my hands? How can I live it out, truly prioritize time with the Word of God- even when the words I'm reading are confusing, boring, or just don't seem to apply to me at all?
I'm going to be completely honest here- I've often thought that reading my Bible was something to check off my list for the day. (And truly, it was often that box that remained unchecked when the day was over. )
But that's really not why we're given the Bible.
We weren't given the perfect, living, breathing Word of God because it's something that Christians do, so just get it done.
We are given the Bible so that we can know the heart of God more fully.
And that's part of why it's such a dynamic, rich, beautiful Book. My understanding of God is shaped by Scripture, and that in turn dictates how I read Scripture... which then shapes my understanding of God... and it continues.
The Christian faith is not meant to be a checklist kind of life. It's a relationship, a journey, a constant re-learning and deepening of our intimate understanding of an un-understandable God.
The Bible has a direct impact on our lives- on our worldviews, on our heart-attitudes, on our relationships and our behaviors.
That doesn't make it easy, though.
I mean, after all, many men and women far smarter and more inspired and way better read have spent their lifetimes studying the Bible. And so many of them disagree about what the Bible says.
Am I ever going to get to the point where I've got the Bible all figured out?
But does that mean that we give up and let our Bibles collect dust under our beds with our too-small-jeans that we can't give away, yet?
Of course not.
Over the next few months (or maybe longer, who knows? God has a habit of surprising me...), I'll be walking through some of the struggles that I face with reading the Bible. And I'd love to invite you along for the journey.
Via e-mail, once a week, I'll be sending out some tools, as I find them, and some reading plans, and some other stuff that I'm praying the Holy Spirit uses in mighty ways in my own life as well as in yours.
Let's be people of the Word. Even when that means we have to wrestle through it, even when we don't really feel like it, even when we're super confused.
The Bible is a gift to us- let's use it well.
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