The trick to consistent Bible reading is not treating it like one more item on your to-do list.
I’m working on a novel right now where I want one of my main characters to read the Bible. She wants to read it. But the tensions of the book are happening fast and furious, leaving her no time to read it. Or so she thinks.
As I mulled over where I’m going to stick in a Bible reading session for Johanna, I found myself chuckling inwardly. She sounds so much like me. Where can I stick in my Bible reading into my busy schedule? My days often start with a lurch. Half way through my morning I find myself trying to pick up my Bible in the midst of juggling all the balls of my daily activities. I know in my head the simple solution and I bet I can guess what you are thinking you would like to tell me – and Johanna.
Make time. Make it a priority.
Johanna has another problem. She doesn’t want Owen to see her reading the Bible. He keeps telling her she’d discover what God is like for herself if she would just read the Bible. Johanna longs to experience the peace she saw on her mother’s face when Mama read the Bible. She knows Owen is right. But, dealing with the pride all too common to the rest of us, she doesn’t want Owen to see her and say “I told you so.”. She doesn’t want him to have the satisfaction of winning.
Basically, she’s making her own problems worse.
I can come up with all kinds of reasons, er-excuses why I can’t read the Bible this minute. I’m almost done with my reading plan and I don’t know where to start next. I don’t feel very spiritual right now and I don’t think I would get anything out of it. The sink is full of dirty dishes I didn’t get washed last night. My husband might walk in the door and interrupt me and then where would be the private in private devotions? I don’t have enough time right now to get a good dose of the study part of Bible study so why not wait until I have a better chunk of time?
My already limited time becomes even more strangled by my lousy excuses. Just like Johanna.
Solutions? Same as above. Sometimes you just gotta do it and let everything else work out. It always does.
I treasure the memory of the time I had two babies under two years old. My mother was always telling me how she spent two hours every afternoon doing intensive Bible study. This was always followed by asking me what book I was studying and why not? Finally I exploded. “I have two babies. I don’t have time to do an official bible study. I’m not even getting in a decent quiet time.”
My mom was quiet. Then she gave me some very wise advice. “Make it your goal to read one Psalm a day, just one. Keep it small. Keep it simple. Just do something.”
I started getting up five minutes earlier than the predictable six thirty stirrings of my babies to speed read my one Psalm, convinced deep down that God wished I would do more.
You know what? The days I did read that one Psalm went so much more smoothly. I felt more energetic and I coped so much better with the daily demands.
Was it just going through the rote of reading the Bible that made my day run more smoothly? If that’s what it was, I might as well have stroked a rabbit’s foot. No, reading the Psalms did three things for me:
- They reminded me I was not alone. Others, like David, had problems, and God walks the journey with those who trust in Him.
- They reminded me of God’s nature, His care for me, His authority, justice, and His power to protect.
- They reminded me how to pray. Reading the Psalms opened the door to ongoing conversations with the Lord throughout the rest of my day.
After a few days of the routine, I longed to read my Bible. It became so important, that I was willing to let other stuff slide and even tell my family to wait a few minutes so I could finish.
For my fiction character, Johanna, reading the Bible has to become more important than anything else – even the possibility of Owen seeing her do it or the risk that she might be interrupted by yet another emergency. At least she will have read something. Just like me.
Make time. Even if it’s just five minutes.
Are you listening, Johanna? Owen, look the other way. Go read your own Bible.