I’ve done it more times than I can count. Wake up. Make coffee. Read my Bible, two or three chapters worth. Put Bible down. Get up. Proceed to go about my day…without remembering hardly anything about what I just read.
You see, I’m a box checker. Marking things off a list makes me feel good, like I’ve done my duty. It gives me a sense of security about where I am in my walk with Christ. However, suffice it to say that a relationship with a holy God is not a box to be checked. And when we simply go through the motions, we are only selling ourselves short of what God has to offer us.
This concept could be applied to many areas of Christian life; but, for now, I would like to focus specifically on Bible intake. I, and a friend that has been discipling me, are currently reading Donald S. Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life together. In the beginning, Whitney focuses on the discipline of Bible intake, which he describes as the most important discipline of all.
So, in my devotion the following day, I tried to put some of his pointers into practice. I attempted to find just one verse or phrase that stood out to me, that I could meditate on. The Lord quickly supplied me with one—Jeremiah 15:16. “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts.”
As I sat in silence, turning the verse over and over in my head, the Holy Spirit brought to my mind so many applications from just this one little verse! I was instructed, convicted, and encouraged all at once. It was a beautiful moment.
First, I noticed how Jeremiah compares the Word of God to food. I love food. So I began to imagine the Bible as the most amazing Thanksgiving feast I had ever seen. I walk up to it, briefly admiring how good it all looks. I sniff a couple of the dishes. Take a tiny taste of one or two items. And then walk away, passing up a delicious, satisfying, soul-nourishing meal freely offered to me.
Of course, in real life, I would never pass up on such a meal! I would feast to my heart’s content. And yet, this is how I often treat God’s Word. I take it for granted, view it as a chore. I pass on the life-altering wonders it offers me simply because I am mentally and spiritually lazy.
Next, I thought about how Jeremiah describes God’s Word as a joy and delight to his heart. I began to consider what brings me joy and delight. A lot of things quickly came to mind, few of them spiritual in nature. I was convicted.
Obviously, just this one little verse had an enormous effect on me. I have more thoughts about it that I will omit for the sake of length and your attention span. But my one, over-arching conclusion was this—if I got all of that from choosing to meditate on one verse for just a few minutes, what else have I been missing out on?
The Bible is a treasure trove, so rich with heavenly wisdom that we could never plumb its depths. Moving forward, I hope to engage with it each day in a deeper and more meaningful way. I want to study it, meditate on it, journal about it. With all my heart, I believe that it is worth the extra attention. I pray that if you struggle with your Bible reading as I do, you’ll consider doing some of these things too.*
Before I close, I’d like to add in one caveat. Every time you read the Bible may not be a grand moment of divine enlightenment or an overwhelming emotional experience. When those things happen, it’s wonderful; but one cannot count on that happening all the time. And it shouldn’t be our ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is knowing Christ more and becoming more like Him. And if you discipline yourself day in and day out to read His Word, study it, and know it, that most certainly will happen.
*If you’d like more details on how to improve your intake of God’s Word, I would highly recommend Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.