I have totally been STRAIGHT UP neglecting this space, haven't it?
But I will NOT try to come up with excuses why. Because I KNOW why.
It's because I've been LIVING MY LIFE...
Taking in every breath from God...
...then exhaling to bless the ones around me. More specifically, my family.
I've been on a journey this month and God has been speaking to me so clearly through His Word, the Bible. The Holy Scriptures that we so often take for granted and let dust find its home on it, all the while the LIFE that moves, creates, inspires and always reflects God's unconditional love and care for us, gets... forgotten.
Forgotten... yes, forgotten.
We "think about it". We "want to read it." We even "carry it" around.
We post pictures of it up. We fill it with our most precious treasures... our kids pictures, valentines, a cute drawing, or a love note. But its VERY WORDS get... forgotten.
We remember a verse here and there.
We recognize a word or two when it's quoted.
But the intentions of "wanting" to read it, aren't actually giving us the LIFE we need.
I won't claim perfection. EVER! So, hear this from a sister who is still growing and is on an ever-changing journey to being more like Jesus.
As I thought about some of the lessons I've been learning this month, I decided to focus on the PRACTICAL ways to make Bible Reading part of our daily routines. So, here it is:
1. Make it a priority.
Did you know that priority is a singular word? When we use the word priority in a plural form, it becomes priorities. Ok, Helen... duh! But humor me for a sec. When we use the word priorities, it defeats its purpose. Priority means there is a single most important item that needs to be at the top. Right? To put our priorities in place, it just means we have too many things taking place of the #1 priority in our lives. Our relationship with Jesus. When I choose to "put our priorities" in place, am I saying that there are other things/people/places that are equally important than my relationship with Jesus? And the answer is YES. I want to make my time reading the Bible a PRIORITY. Period. No buts, ifs, or lame excuses. Because that is essential to getting to know Jesus. And I want to KNOW Him. Do you? It all starts with a decision. Choose to make it a priority.
2. Schedule a time.
Setting aside a chunk of time that was uninterrupted was a challenge for me. I get Joshua up for school at 6:30am and... confession time here... I do NOT like to get up any earlier than that. Sure, it would be the "holy" thing to do, right? Get up before everyone else does. Sit on a comfy chair and soak in all that the Lord has to tell me... BUT, unless I choose to get nothing done the night before and go to bed before 10pm, this sister is NOT getting up much earlier than that. So... what was THE time that was going to work for me? Anytime between 8-9am. It's after Joshua was gone on the bus, after I fed all the kids breakfast, but before Joel was out to the office. That's when I choose to sit with my Bible. This might look different for everyone. For some, this will NEED to be before all your family is up. It might be late at night. It might be at nap times. But finding a time that WORKS for your schedule and life rhythm will help you stay consistent and intentional.
3. Get a "spot".
I sit at my kitchen table. After the kiddos are done with breakfast. After the dishes are in the sink (unwashed... of course!). Sometimes I choose to sit at my dining room/living room area, but I find that I get more distracted. Sometimes I want to just sit at a comfy chair in the living room with my Bible and coffee at hand. But again, I find myself getting distracted. So, the kitchen table allows me to focus a bit more. And that works for me.
4. Let others know about it.
My family now knows that when I'm at the kitchen table, with my "big" Bible, I am NOT to be interrupted. Sure, I still get interrupted, but the kids are getting better at just playing on their own, reading books, coloring, or simply... running around the house. But I learned to adjust. This time is important and I can deal with their messes AFTER this time with God. My husband is also aware of what I'm doing, so he tries to protect my time at the kitchen table as well. As much as it is possible, if he is around, he'll try to manage the chaos "behind" me. If you need to lock yourself in your room for that time, let others know what you're doing. Do Not Disturb signs can be put to use here, too! ;) Or, if you need to leave the house, do it! I would've LOVED to be able to sit somewhere else to read my Bible... a coffee shop, library, bookstore, even church. But staying home is just more practical for my stage in life.
5. Make a plan.
Ok, this one sounds a bit scary, but, TRUST ME, it will really help you! Pick a book of the Bible you’ve been wanting to dig deeper, or a portion of Scripture that you’re curious to know more about. The Gospels are a great bunch (Mathew, Mark, Luke, or John) during this time of the year. Paul’s letters, the Psalms, or Proverbs. Whatever you do, pick a book of the Bible and stick with it. I’m sure God has spoken through random “just-opened-my-Bible” situations, as His Word is alive and does not return void. But “knowing” where you’re reading each day can ease your anxiety. For me, personally, I’ve been MORE THAN ENJOYING readying through my Chronological Bible. It’s been so eye-opening and so refreshing to read God’s Word as a chronological account. I confess, though, that right now it’s been a stretch to have some real practical lessons come out of Leviticus, but… I’m pushing through and God’s been faithfully speaking to me (more on that to come).
6. Don’t rush.
I’ve been trying to engage with each text in front of me for that day. Sometimes it’s a whole chapter, sometimes 2. And sometimes I’m having a flood of insight and a deep conversation with the Lord over a single verse. But I’m giving myself permission to either stop and reflect, or to just “keep reading” until I hear His voice. But you know what… it’s so rewarding to know that in my daily reading, Jesus is with me. Right there. It’s a coffee date. Every day! I keep thinking about how sweet it would be to have a coffee date with Jesus. Ok… haha… would Jesus really have a latte with me? Would He take creamer, sugar, or just black? Helen, Helen… Jesus would just LOVE to be spending time with you, sister! So… don’t rush! And if you need to rush, remember to ENGAGE in the conversation at hand. Even if for a brief moment… He deserves our full attention. He might say something to us through His Word… Huh… what a concept!
7. Take notes
The act of writing down my thoughts on a journal has been absolutely life-breathing and live-giving to my soul. Sometimes I don’t hear the Lord speak to me until I begin writing my thoughts down on paper. And get this. Sometimes I write down the verses I just read, word for word, on my journal, and the meaning of these words comes to life! Those few seconds between what I see on my Bible and what I write on paper are just enough time for the Holy Spirit to whisper a thought into my heart. The same thing happens when I choose to write my prayers. Those moments between my thoughts and my words on paper are the physical times I hear God’s voice speak to me. Those little thoughts that I hear in between words on paper… THAT’s God’s Spirit speaking to me. I hear it only when I take the time to jot my thoughts down. To take it from being just a thought on my head, to physical words on a journal. So, I take notes. I put my thoughts on paper. And I often write some of the verses down… and allow the Holy Spirit to speak through the echoing of those verses.
8. Focus on a lesson learned.
Before I close my Bible each morning. I try to focus on a WORD, a verse, a main thought or lesson that I want to remember for that day. Something I can digest throughout the day. It helps me to remember “the point” of it all. And to also look forward to something new every day. If I can learn something new about God every day, shouldn’t that be motivating me to continue to seek Him daily? If the goal is to KNOW God better, learning something new about Him and His character through His Word is VERY EXCITING to me! How about you?
9. Continue to listen through the day.
Be aware of God’s voice throughout the day. It might be a song you hear, the majesty of His creation, the tender moments with a child, that convicting feeling you have when your 5 year-old catches you saying a “mean” thing, or when a message from a dear friend reaches your inbox. God is everywhere! And He walks with me no matter where I go. Even as I lay my head down to sleep, His presence still inspires me (there’s a Psalm for that!). I remember VIVIDLY hearing God’s voice telling me to GET UP and OPEN MY BIBLE at 5:58am (yes, folks! That’s 5:58 IN THE MORNING!). Who else would ask me to open my Bible? Not myself. Not my conscious or unconscious self. Not the enemy. So, it HAD to come from God Himself. Right? Absolutely! And He spoke directly to me through a passage of Scripture I was needing for that coming day. Amazing stuff! I can’t make these things up! It’s happened more than once. SO… if you hear a still small voice, a whisper, or even a LOUD voice telling you to PICK UP YOUR BIBLE and READ IT, do yourself a favor and DO IT! It’s God telling you to LISTEN! He’s got something important to tell you!
10. Share it with someone else.
I get excited when I see the fingerprints of God in His Word. A story, a word, or a verse. Get excited about God’s Word! Tell it to your children. Tell it to your friends. Tell it to your spouse! Believe me! If reading God’s Word is exciting for you, others will see the LIGHT and LIFE reflecting in your joy! I recently read about the fiery cloud that accompanied the tabernacle while the Israelites were in the wilderness… (Numbers 9:15-23) How cool is that! That God’s presence was a visible provision of guidance and direction! If the cloud remained over the Tabernacle, the people were to stay and set up camp. But at the Lord’s command, the cloud could move, the people would break camp and move on. Sometimes it would be for a month or year, and sometimes just overnight! Wow! What faith that took! I could just see myself there. Would I grumble? Would I get excited to pick up my tent and move on? The very presence of God was so visible to the people then. Crazy thought… but… if He were to SHOW HIMSELF to me on a daily basis today, wouldn’t I just SHOW UP for it? Wouldn’t I just drop everything I was doing to follow His presence? His “fiery cloud”?
So, there it is.
Let me encourage you today. God longs to spend time with us. He loves us! And in my own imperfection, I want God to show Himself daily to me. To be my God. To be my strength. To be my guide. I want God to be my “fiery cloud”. But it starts with our decision to intentionally come into His presence. We don’t worship the Bible. But we worship the ONE who inspired it and speaks through it today. Our source of truth. Scripture was given to us, as a gift. But we need to receive it. And read it.
I strongly believe that it’s in God’s Word that you will find an increased knowledge of Jesus, a better understanding of His character, and a complete and holy guide for your faith.
Wherever you are…