So if the mind is our filter (see loving w/ your mind Part One) and Jesus teaches us to take in our daily bread (Part Two), what is our response? It’s clear to see we have to feed our mind with spiritual things. But the Bible can be a tough read! Believe me….
I have made more attempts to “Read the Bible in One Year!” than there are years I’ve been able to read. I’ve tried a One-Year Bible, a Two-Year Bible, a chronological bible, a print-it-out and put each book in your purse plan (whip it out at the stop light!) I’ve followed a reading plan from a magazine, an on-line reading plan, and an audio bible reading plan. I’ve read one chapter of Proverbs per night, one chapter of Psalms, and all of 1 John at once for a month (I think I made it ten days). I’ve made huge efforts to read the bible straight through. I’ve even been to seminary, where you would expect I might read hundreds of pages of God’s word in one sitting. I have tried every trick and scheme to read copious amounts of scripture at once.
Deep down, I think I’ve believed that reading the bible straight through, cover to cover, would propel me to a higher level of heaven, a new level of spiritual productivity, or some sort of nirvana-like state with every person who’s every annoyed me. I’ve tried…and failed. Over and over. I keep trying, and I’m still optimistic that one day I’ll get through the whole thing front to back all at once. But until that day, I need to figure out how to make my daily dose of spiritual nutrition work for me.
The problem is not so much in any one plan, but in my expectations for the plan. As I read scripture, I really hope that it’s going to address my problem right then and there. More than once I’ve opened the bible, closed my eyes and pointed, hoping for some horoscope-like answer to my daily difficulty. And I think God can work through these things if he desires. But more likely, developing a peaceful relationship with my Bible is in order.
More recently, I’ve tried to tune out my expectations of what I “should” do with my Bible and tune in to how my heart and mind interact with the words on the page. Sometimes I let a devotional or bible study lead me through God’s word, either a book of the bible or a particular topic. Sometimes I start in Psalms, find one verse catches my eye. I take that one verse and let it meditate with me for a day, or a week, or a month. I let the Holy Spirit do its mysterious work of instructing me, even in the night. Perhaps its just one word that sticks out to me, like “daily.” I use a website concordance to check around for other verses that might speak to my learning. Other times I’ve been inspired by great writers who lead me into new understandings of the Bible. But whatever it is, I find something to look at every day.
Sometimes I feel satisfied, like a filling meal. The verse or passage will be just what I needed or wanted to hear.
Sometimes I feel troubled, almost like spiritual indigestion, and I need to talk about, think about it, or question in my prayers what I feel like I’m hearing.
Other times, I don’t feel anything at all. But I rest in the fact that God’s word still nourished my soul. Just as I don’t totally understand the intricate processes of how my digestive system processes my food or how my kidneys use the nutrients, I don’t totally understand how God’s Word nourished me that day. But I’m confident that it did, and that it does matter.
For a great resource on this, check out Eugene Peterson’s “Solo” or Keri Wyatt Kent’s “Oxygen”.