How and Why should I read the Bible?
A question that I have wrestled with the majority of my life. Growing up in a Christian church going family, this was a 'norm' for our house. My dad was an elder in our church. My parents taught parenting classes based on curriculum from Focus on the Family. My life was structured around Jesus, faith and reading the Bible. If I was honest, I saw in no point in it. After all, anytime I did read the Bible I felt judged. Condemned. Ashamed. Confused. I struggled to really understand what the stories even meant. I mean after all, wasn't this written over 2,000 years ago?
It wasn't until I came to the absolute end of myself. The indisputable hopelessness that my life had become. I started to ask a different question: "Is there more than this." A question out of utter desperation.
There has to be more to life then this. Life can't just be one struggle after another, with a couple good times in between, until the day we die. There has to be more. There were enough Christians in my life to know that they believed there was more to life. I knew my upbringing told me there was more to life. But just being told wasn't enough. I'm a skeptic. I had to experience it.
So I got curious. I dusted off that big leather book and I just started reading.
It's been awhile from that moment, but I think I started in Psalms. I knew David (the writer of Psalms) was considered to be a man after Gods own heart, and I knew the Psalms were written in poetry. Exactly what my emo-heart needed.
A good poetry book.
A "lay it all out there" song.
A "save me from the depths of despair" plea.
A glimmer of hope began to arise inside my soul.
A hope I had been longing for, for a really long time. A hope that defies our current struggles. A hope that is unwavering to our storms. A hope that was breathing life back into my soul. A hope that says, "the best is yet to come!"
In fact, I'm going to leave the "why should we read the Bible" right there. An invitation for you to experience it yourself. Find your "why." Open those pages and read them with the lens of curiosity to find your own "why."
My "why" is simple. It tells me who I really am. Who I was created to be. Beautifully and Wonderfully made. A daughter of the Most High King. Made in the Image of God - an Image Bearer. I'm not a mistake. I'm not the things that I have done. I'm not the things people have done to me. I'm not the negative things people have spoken over me.
I am Beautifully and Wonderfully made. A daughter of the Most High King. Made in the Image of God - An Image Bearer. I hold, in me, by way of being an image bearer, a beauty that my mind cannot even begin to fathom. A glory so immeasurable, my thoughts can't even comprehend. This is who I am. And this is why I read the Bible. So I can be reminded of who I am. How deeply loved I am. The constant pursuit that Jesus is in, for me. The cup he bore for me to experience this love. A love so fulfilling. So satisfying. So life-giving. A love that is literally out of this world. A love that doesn't have a hidden agenda. A love so simple, it's profound. A love that is rooted in the message of, "Come as you are, my beautifully broken child. Let me restore you to My dignity. Let me clothe you in My splendor. Let me lavish on you My love."
So, I'm not going to tell you why you should read the Bible. That's a decision solely left up to you and your free will. But I will invite you to the journey, and hopefully, we'll be sitting together as VIP, honored guests at the Biggest Party that has ever been thrown. The sweetness of that day. The dancing. The contagious, abounding joy. The moment when everything that is wrong in this world, is made right. What a glorious day that will be.
So, the 'why' is your quest. You'll have to find that out on your way. But the 'how,' well, that I can help you with.
There are a number of different reading plans that are available. Some are apps like this one that are easy to navigate and have preset plans with many different Bible versions available. Others go through the whole Bible from cover to cover in a year, like this one. While others start in the Gospels to look deeper into the life of Jesus, like this one. There really is no right or wrong was to start, but the complexities of the Bible can be hard to understand without first understanding who Jesus is.
Personally my 'how' is much more like a storybook. I start in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke,John) and I just read. I'll go to the Psalms, since those speak so beautifully to my soul, and then I may hop over to the Old Testament. The only agenda I have is to soak in it. It's a love story written for me. About me. It's my story. It's our story. My lens is that of curiosity. "God, What is in this for me, for today?" and then I read. Sometimes it's ten minutes. Sometimes it's an hour. Sometimes I only read the Gospels. Sometimes I only sit in the Psalms. Sometimes I'll read a whole book, while other times a few verses. But the only thing I don't do, is hold to a certain 'pressure' about how I should be reading the Bible. The pressure of, 'I have to read these chapters today.' That kind of systematic attitude reduces a passion filled love story to a mere to-do-list.
That was how I used to read the Bible. A mere to-do-list. A begrudging "have to." It's why when I was younger, I didn't understand the need to read it. It was just one more thing to do. One more thing that took time away from my friends. From my agenda for the day. My self serving, life sucking agenda that was wrapped in nothing more than trying to do everything and anything that would fill the void I felt.
Ah, how the tables have turned. It's now, the only thing I want to do. I crave the time when I get to cuddle up on the couch in front of our fireplace and just read. Uninterrupted. Unhurried. No Agenda. No pressures. No checklists. Just Jesus and I. Time stands still in these moments. These moments when I get to Come away with Him, as two lovers would. Basking in the joy of each others company. A joy so fulfilling and so soul satisfying, I want nothing more than to remain in that place, in those moments as long as I possibly can.
If you are willing to embark on this quest, then Welcome to the greatest adventure of your life. An adventure so compelling. So contrary to societies systems. So scandalous. So defiant. So freeing. So life giving. Welcome to the Greatest Love affair.