I’ve heard and later learned that the first step to fixing a problem is acknowledging you actually have one. The realization of said problem’s existence is key in the repairing process. Usually such a phrase is found in the depths of addiction interventions. The beautiful thing about allowing yourself to believe such a notion is quite frankly, freeing. Admitting you have a problem (big or small) is you being honest with you.
Before we go any further let me put something on the table. This post was extremely hard for me to publish. There were late nights of pondering if publishing this would produce criticism of myself or help to someone. Like many posts on this site, this is personal. But particularly this one is different. The bible seems to be a dividing subject for people. So let me be clear. Nothing in this post is meant to hurt. Only to help, if no one else, then just me.
I have a problem: I don’t read my bible. There it is, I said it. In blind site standing naked; a simple, honest truth. In a consistent manner, I have never read my bible. Sure from time to time I will pick it up and pretend to understand a chapter or two. I think we all do. But if I’m being honest, I was barely even doing that. My other problem: I’ve never read the bible all the way through (obviously). After much time of reflection on this, I am somewhat disappointed in myself, but thats the reality. My life is busy and finding time to give the bible the attention it deserves has proven to be difficult. Of course thats an excuse, but a persuasive one that was effective, until recently.
A while ago I started really thinking about this. You know, really analyzing the situation from all angles. My family and I go to church 3 times a week. I hold a pretty time consuming position in our media situation at church. I claim to be Christian and yet why, when I leave church, I could honestly care less about reading the bible.
The realization hit me hard. There was something wrong and quite honestly I was sick of it. You see its important you understand, I had to be honest with myself. I had a problem and no one was going to fix it except for me. Thats scary when you actually believe it.
I had to analyze my situation. I go to church. Why? Honestly, why? Why do I spend so much time somewhere called church and how has reading the bible slipped (really never started) from my life. Its certainly not the Pastors fault. I have been really blessed to have had only two Pastors my whole life and they are both in their own way, exceptional. Can’t blame them. I had to direct the blame towards me. And a few months ago, I did.
I feel many Christians are utterly incapable of admitting reading the bible is difficult and a daily task we push off intentionally because frankly, we find many more things much more enjoyable. Becoming a Christian late in life I guess has helped me in the sense of common sense. I’m not afraid to say my bible knowledge is nowhere it needs to be because I have no one to impress, I have no expectations to live up to. I can’t cling on to the excuse that growing up my family read the bible 3 times a day because we didn’t. So I’m left looking in the mirror with my kids in the rearview.
Sometime ago I was unsure of some topics and I intentionally delved into them on my own. I didn’t tell anyone, I just jumped in privately. Surprisingly, I loved the experience. I enjoyed no influences and I really got excited when I discovered something in my bible, on my own. To be clear for some people, I can intelligently discern between influences and guidance. I welcome guidance and am thankful for it, but sometimes influence makes me nervous. To me, digging on your own builds character, it shows dedication and most importantly it produces a relationship between God and I. Almost like building memories. And then it hit me; thats what was missing, memories.
Like I mentioned early and can’t be stressed enough, I started to ask why. Like a lot. Why don’t I read daily? More importantly, why don’t I want to read daily? I should want to know this stuff, right? Sure life happens, but thats no excuse. Especially if you claim that the Bible is God’s written word. So with the fire burning and ready to begin. I stopped asking why and began asking how. A scary, but good first step.
I set a goal. The goal would be a simple one. Read the Bible through in 1 year. For me this was going to be extremely hard, but long overdue. If my intention was to read through the entire bible, I knew it couldn’t be a me thing. I clearly don’t have the drive to complete such a task on my own and I have to be honest about that. It would commission much prayer and (in my case) intelligent use of what I have a good understanding of, technology. I know, I know… But please keep reading.
I decided early on I wanted a double dynamic experience. I wanted to hear and read simultaneously. So I knew turning to apps was the right move. I didn’t want to just read, for me hearing and experiencing help me understand much, much better. So I found an app for my iPhone that has dramatized and non-dramatized versions of KJV. Also accompanying that app is an actual reading plan to keep me honest and organized and ensure my finish date. So I don’t have to guess if I am on track, the app will tell me “OK, this is what you need to do today.” Also and for me most critically, an 1828 Webster Dictionary App to know what these words meant near the time of being penned. That’s really important to me, maybe it’s my writing/filmmaking/storytelling background. But intentions and meanings are vital in written narratives. So after some researching I settled on a bible app, that included reading plans, vocal read back and reminders combined with a capable 1828 dictionary app. I was set. Well, the setting up part.
I should note, all of this planning made my nerves roll. Just because I’m doing all this research, doesn’t mean I’m going to actually follow through. And the truth was, I really felt like this was my last shot. I know that sounds silly. But I felt like, if this doesn’t work when I’m this ready and willing, it will never work. I didn’t really know what was going to happen. I knew I felt confident my plan was appealing to me and I set the right tools in front of me, but who knew what would actually happen. I certainly didn’t.
So I started.
Here’s where the story gets interesting.
I remember day one very clearly. I opened the my Bible and paused on the cover page for Genesis 1. I said a prayer and asked God; “if you want me to learn about you, please just help a little.” I was nervous. I didn’t want this to fail. I know this will sound funny but, I also wanted to actually like it. I smirk when typing that but its true. I heard so much about this book from so many people. I really didn’t want to be the guy who didn’t enjoy it. I ended my prayer, took a deep breath and pressed play on my app. Here we go. The narrater started and my eyes moved in unison. My 3 chapters for the day were finished. “That wasn’t that bad” I thought…
The first couple weeks I slowly began looking forward to what would happen next in Genesis. Then merging into Exodus I felt extremely accomplished finishing my first book. This may sound extremely elementary to you professional Bible readers, but that wasn’t enough to discourage me. I was starting to catch my stride. I was excited/learning about God. For the first time in my life, I could honestly say that was true.
I continued and pretty soon, none of this felt like work. Sure in the beginning it was difficult (like any new habit). But after time reading the bible was just part of my day. The fact that I went from no interest in the Bible to actually looking forward to opening it daily is nothing short of a miracle to me. Currently, on this publish date I am exactly half way through. Im not sitting here saying I’m on the road to finishing. Because I’m not. But I could say I am enjoying my time with it. I am thrilled to be putting my focus on something that matters. And I know if it ends tomorrow, I will have done more than not doing anything at all.
Looking back now, I can honestly say I sold the bible short. I took for granted it’s scale, it’s style of writing. I completely overlooked how beautiful the stories are told. I ignored God’s effortless storytelling. I forgot that the Bible is a collection of an epic narrative. I think we all do. And truthfully it’s not our faults. We go to church so much and have information spoon fed to us, we are obnoxiously numb to God’s magnificence in his written word. We lose the hunger to see and experience the bible for what it is. A masterful book which is so epic in proportion no one in its existence has come close to pinning down every detail. It’s a book of mystery, of betrayal, of companionship and revenge. It’s the ultimate and original love story to the unworthy. It truly has all you would want. The bible spawns life lessons with ease. What other book captures all these elements and is able to put a bow on top?
I guess what I’m trying to say is do what works for you and try, read and get excited. For me, it was much prayer and adding technology. Daily reminders, reading plans and dramatized audio in combination with an 1828 Webster dictionary app ready to go. But please don’t misunderstand me, i’m not saying that’s the right way for everyone, I’m saying there is no right way. Just find what works for you and begin learning about God. For real.
As a new(er) Christian I honestly thought church and fellowship was sufficient. And I could totally see how anyone else would also. But, maybe we should stop thinking of Christianity as a group effort and start executing a solo plan and take responsibly for ourselves, our actions and our knowledge. Stop thinking of reading the bible as an act of the establishment and start thinking along the lines of you being personable with God. Stop thinking attending church is sufficient enough when it’s your duty to understand the Bible and live its principles.
To not read is to not experience what is the most prolific, miraculous groupings of words ever assembled in my opinion. To not try for me was the most worn out, faded sweatshirt that just didn’t fit anymore. I was the best at pretending, now I just want to be decent at trying. Like I mentioned, I don’t know what lies ahead. I know I want to remain faithful and surge on. I am really, really enjoying reading. I admire how it has become a part of my everyday life.
Building any relationship is difficult. Especially when one person just isn’t interested. In this case, I was the uninterested. The biggest takeaway I’d like to tell people is nothing magical, yet mundane. To build a relationship with God, like any other entity, a requirement is time spent together. Since starting my reading plan, I feel a closeness I’ve never felt. I find myself caring about what God cares about. I’ve discovered less of me and more of Him is extremely wise. I believe, to truly feel these emotions, they can’t be fabricated overnight. They can’t be manufactured after a really good church service. Like any relationship hard work and dedication are a must. Mine and God’s relationship was no different. You can’t spend zero time with someone and claim to love them. It just doesn’t work, and whats more heartbreaking; that other someone will never believe you love them.
If your intention is to read the bible and learn about God but are stuck in a rut, step 1 is being honest with yourself. Then try anything that may help: Read half a chapter a day. Read a verse day. If you think I’m joking, I’m not. Because I was there and maybe i’ll be back there. Please, do whatever it takes to get you to open this book. I promise you It was made to be opened, something I’m grateful to be learning day by day.