Theatre gal now working in full-time ministry. Here to encourage you as you figure out a life lived pursuing Jesus.
I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve read through the Bible. There are some books that I’ve read several times over and others I’ve read once and thought, “I’m okay if I never have to study that again.” However, even after reading through Scripture almost daily for six years and attending church and Bible studies regularly since I was a child, I still find myself sitting in front of Scripture and thinking, “I have no clue what to do with this.”
A lot of us, new or “experienced” in our faith, have felt this way. Yes, I believe the Bible is God-breathed Scripture with piercing power to soul and spirit and all that jazz from Hebrews 4. It’s also Jewish mediation literature. And letters. And ancient law code. And erotic poetry (I’m looking at you, Song of Solomon).
It’s kind of like a great aunt. She’s a woman who has lots of knowledge and wisdom and you know you can learn from her, but she’s also really old and from a different era than you. So, sitting down with her for a meal can be a little awkward. Some things can get lost in translation, and you’re not really sure of the point of the conversation.
If you have read through the Bible before, it can also just feel stale. You get bored. It happens.
But just because it might not feel natural or comfortable doesn’t mean you don’t show up. I wholeheartedly believe that the transformation and refinement of us becoming like Christ is hinged on how much we invest our lives in reading God’s word.
The question is: what do you do when you don’t know where to start?
Looking at the Bible in its entirety can be daunting. Start small. When I meet friends who have never read any Scripture before, I like to encourage them to start with the book of John. It’s great to understand who this Jesus guy is that we keep talking about, and John has a narrative style that is more creative and engaging than some of the other Gospel accounts.
If you’ve read through the whole bible already, maybe choose a word study. What’s a promise of God that you feel like you’ve been forgetting? What is something you feel like you’ve lacked recently? Dig into what scripture says about this.
A lot of Bibles have a concordance in the back to guide you. If you don’t have one, don’t be ashamed to Google, “Bible verses about ______.” We’ve all done it.
When you begin reading, start taking notes. I love to keep a journal and pen with me whenever I open my Bible. Whether it’s thoughts, convictions, or questions, make a note of them.
I love the BibleProject. Seriously, if I could have dinner with Tim and Jon, I would be elated. I finish one of their podcasts feeling like a theologian and like I need to go sign up for a Hebrew class.
They have free videos, podcasts, classes, and other resources that help you dig into a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Bible. In no way am I sponsored to tell you that. I’m merely a huge fan of their work.
Click here to explore their website and resources.
There are a ridiculous number of Bible studies out there, both physical and virtual. If you want to dig into a specific book of the Bible, I guarantee there is a book out there on it. If you want something short and sweet for your day, check out the devotionals on the Bible app.
Side note: if you don’t particularly enjoy a study you found, don’t feel pressured to stick with it. Over the years, I’ve become more selective about the studies I use. If it really only scratches the surface of a passage, I usually move on. I love a study that asks me hard questions and pushes me to dig deeper.
If you can find a study group to join, even better! Although I would encourage you to make time to read Scripture on your own, having a group of men and women to read Scripture with is a great way to build encouragement and understanding. If you’re not yet involved in a local church, I encourage you to start there.
I’m going to get a little tough love here for a minute, so stay with me.
Some of y’all are tiptoeing around your Bible, waiting for the motivation and emotion to arrive before you sit down and open it up. You are going to wait for a very long time.
Reading Scripture is a spiritual discipline, and discipline cannot be based on emotion; otherwise, you will constantly opt-out under the excuse, “I’m just not feeling it.” I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve gone months waiting for the time, the energy, the motivation to show up and make me a fierce Bible-reading woman.
I was waiting for a transformation that would only come about by sitting in the Word.
If you’re in that boat, I want to encourage you that you are absolutely able to change course. You can be the person who consistently gets in Scripture and feels confident about what they’re reading. That won’t happen all at once, but it definitely won’t happen if you don’t make an effort.
The time won’t appear if you don’t make it.
The desire doesn’t come until you’ve made it a duty.
Even if the Bible is new to you, choose to show up still. It’s alright if things don’t make complete sense right away. I believe the Holy Spirit still has the power to move even in the midst of confusion. This is hard, important work. Let’s dig in.