“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
1 Peter 2:2-3, NIV
Spending time in God’s Word is one of the cornerstone duties of the Christian believer; it is how we are fed, encouraged, edified, educated, sanctified, convicted, humbled, and more. It is also one of the most important ways that we build and maintain our intimacy and relationship with the Lord. The Bible is beautiful and infallible and the instruction manual for how we are to live our lives as we seek after Christlikeness. Why, then, is it so dang hard to just READ IT?
I have struggled my entire life as a Christian to establish consistent, quality time reading the Bible, to make it a priority in my daily routine, and to actually meditate on it and hide in my heart. Similar to my history with exercise (check out my previous post if you haven’t already), my consistency in reading Scripture has always been somewhat cyclical. I’ll find a great groove for a while, maybe even a few months, and then drop off when life gets hectic. I’ll dive into a great devotional that keeps me motivated for some time, but then I finish it or it hits a lull and my routine gets muddled again. Part of my specific struggle is that I’m a doer; I like being productive and checking things off lists, which makes it difficult for me to be still or really value my “quiet time” as something more than just a task to be done. For a long time I also REALLY wanted my time with the Lord to look a certain way: my Bible opened under a window with morning sunlight streaming in and illuminating the pages, the lines of Scripture meticulously marked and underlined with notes in the margins, a lovely journal full of thoughtful insights lying next to the Good Book, and a steaming mug of hot tea to top off a picture-perfect quiet time. Basically, I wanted my every Bible time to be Instagram-worthy, otherwise it just didn’t seem perfect enough, and if it wasn’t perfect enough, was it really worth having?
If I thought having not only the time, but also the aesthetically pleasing Bible reading that I wanted was difficult in college (which was when my desire to know God really began in earnest), it was even harder after I was married and in grad school, and became perhaps the most challenging once I was working full-time. However, if you remember back to my last post (again, GO READ IT if you haven’t!), last year I made a commitment to myself to be more disciplined in my life, and, of course, like any “good Christian”, that goal applied to my time in the Word. I decided to go through the Bible in a year and was so excited and motivated! I got to about the second week of January before I started falling seriously behind, and eventually I just gave up altogether. I FAILED. It was discouraging, but I settled back into my lackluster semi-routine/cycle of consistency and inconsistency when it came to reading Scripture.
This year, I decided to try again, this time, with more realistic expectations and with my husband as an accountability partner. Our goal was still to read through the Bible in a year, but this time with the help of a tool that definitely did not fit my idea of the picture-perfect quiet time: the Bible app. Not only did the Bible In One Year plan on YouVersion have the structure that I would need to take some pressure off figuring it out myself, but it also has an audio feature, which meant that I could listen to the devotional and Scripture readings while I was commuting to and from work, cleaning the house, folding laundry, and even walking my dog. Unfortunately, but perhaps most fortunately, for my perfectionist-self, there’s nothing to photograph or share on social media when you’re listening to an audio Bible. It’s just me and the narrator’s voice, which has actually helped me be the most successfully consistent in my time in Scripture than I ever have been before. Now it still isn’t perfect, I still miss some days and I’ve still gotten behind, but my tendency now when I have a moment here or there is turn the app on and let myself listen, which helps me feel like I’m washed in Scripture throughout the day. The way this particular plan is structured, I get encouragement from both the Old and New Testaments each day and make connections across books of the Bible that I never really have before, which is pretty amazing. I finally think I’ve found a way to at least help me maintain somewhat of a more consistent routine, and the way God has used it to bless my life is kind of indescribable. I can physically and emotionally feel the difference when I’ve missed a day (or two, or three); my stress increases, my patience decreases, and something is just off. I’m finally able to view time in the Bible as necessary, to see the Word as spiritual food and not just an optional 15-minute activity to check off my to-do list. Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from finished growing in this area of my life; I still treat it like a check box sometimes, I still zone out when the app is narrating every now and again, and I obviously still miss days. But that’s the beauty in the bumbling: God is using this area of struggle to grow and instruct me, and my failures are teaching me humility and reminding me that I am still, and always will be, in great need of a Savior to perfect my shortcomings.
If you struggle with maintaining a consistent time in God’s Word, I’m with you, friend. Let’s pray for and encourage one another. Let’s let go of any preconceived notions about what we believe that time should or could look like and instead embrace whatever truly works for us. Not what we wish would work or what works for someone else, but what actually fits for us. It was a tough thing for me to do, but once I surrendered that to the Lord, He redeemed it and gave me something even better in its place, which He tends to do.
I’m praying that you’ll seek and find God in your quiet time this week, no matter what that looks like, and that you’ll strive for discipline and consistency and give yourself grace when you fail. Find the beauty in those bumbles and praise the Father for His goodness.
I appreciate y’all, and I’m thankful for this journey. Talk soon.