I love the Word of God, but...
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. –2 Timothy 3:16
I have to be honest. I loved the Bible, and almost everything in it. But there were some passages and books I simply could not go through. Believe me, I tried because I love God and believe the Bible is His Word for my life.
I dared my Bible-thumping friends to look at me in the eye and tell me that they sat with excitement and joy as they went through the priestly regulations in Leviticus, the textbook-style histories of Chronicles, the lists of names and numbers in Ezra. I was certain only a mathematician would ever be able to survive Numbers.
My attitude annoyed my friends, and depressed me. Then some of them, probably realizing I genuinely had a problem despite my overwhelming love for God’s Word, they shared with me the “secret” of getting through the (don’t you dare say “boring”) – let’s say, “tedious” books of the Bible.
However, before anything else, they made me learn by heart today’s key verse (2 Timothy 3:16). Now why would they do that? Because they wanted me to remember that every teeny weeny bit of Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” I realized that even the smallest phrase in the Bible can contain a gold nugget which I deprived myself of because of my yawns.
Now, for their tips:
- I was told never to open the Bible before praying a brief simple prayer requesting God to reveal Himself to me as I read on. The minute I did that, the very first time, something startling happened. No longer did I see the Bible as a stagnant book, just blank ink on lightweight offset paper that contains cotton or linen fibers to increase its strength. I experienced Hebrews 4:12 which tells that the “Word of God is alive and powerful.” The Word suddenly became a living thing, moving and breathing, and taking me by surprise. I was reading the Bible, and what do you know – it began to speak back to me!
- The mental block suddenly vanished. Once, when I was reading or trying the book of Numbers, I fell into a deep sleep by Chapter 4, but not before grumbling to myself, “Is the Lord joking? Imagine column after column carrying the census of the Levite clans, and commanding the Gershonite clan to attend to the curtains.” Curtains! Why would the Bible want to expend space on curtains of all things? Now, after remembering to pray before opening the Bible, not only was my mental block dissolved, but my eyes opened to the importance of those curtains – those very curtains comprised the boundaries of the tabernacle where God had promised to meet the Israelite people. If you/your family use the same vigor and creativity, to design a ‘hiding place’ where God and you/your family can meet – like wow, can you even begin to imagine how your home life will rev up?
- Look at the action-packed enthralling narrative. You loved Mel Gibson’s ‘Brave-heart’ for its standout drama, even though it was a long-gone event, the story of William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence against Edward I of England. Once you pray for focus, God gives it to you. I was able to go through the first nine chapters of I Chronicles, a long list of apparently meaningless genealogies. Tedious, yes, but because of my new resolve, I did not give up. Then suddenly, in Chapter 13, action jumped out of the pages and caused my heart to skip beats as a king kills himself after being wounded in battle, three elite warriors risk their lives for a single cup of water, and a man gets struck dead by God right in the middle of a party because of a stumbling oxen. My hair stood up, my drowsiness vanished as I realized how meticulous and uncompromising our God is.
- Don’t dare skip the repetitions! You may think with irritation, ‘But I just read this in Exodus or Numbers, or Leviticus, or Deuteronomy, why are these things being repeated again and again. Did God forget He’d already written it or breathe-inspired it to Moses in an earlier chapter? No my friend, God did not forget. The earliest books were recorded from the oral tradition, which had the same words being spoken multiple times so listeners would remember them. I asked the Lord why these facts were being repeated again and again. Why were phrases like “pure” and “without defect” used so often, what was the big deal? I heard His reply in my heart: “Because holiness is a Big Deal to me.” In that instant, I understood why Achan’s family too (Joshua 7) were stoned and burnt, why a God who loves all could kill thousands and thousands of women and children too – because there can never, and will never be a compromise on His standards of holiness. An awesome fear filled my heart.
- Skim but don’t skip the lists. Run (literally run) through them, but don’t try to stop and meditate on each name, or try to pronounce it right. I told myself it was no big deal if I could not pronounce every name in the genealogy of Jesus, or know exactly the number of exiles listed in Ezra, to comprehend the joy of God’s people returning home.
- Don’t feel you’ve sinned if you yawn a couple of times. Bible reading was never meant to be entertainment. It’s okay to admit you find some books boring and tough to read. Read them all the same keeping in mind the reason for reading – your relationship with God. You know something – sometimes, understanding comes after obedience.
That, by the way, is Rick Warren’s line, not mine.
-by Zanobia Cardoz