A Personal Journey With The Bible
While I will first admit that I don’t routinely carve out the same time every day for devotional time, I do spend designated time with the Lord every day. The hunger for connection with Him continues to grow, day after day, year after year. Some days are more prayer-focused in my quiet time, while other days consist of worship and meditating on certain passages of Scripture.
Let’s talk about the Bible for a minute. If you think about it, the Bible literally covers all facets of life... struggle, betrayal, war, victory, scandal, miracles, death, life, redemption, cultural diversity, discipline, love, faith, wisdom, and far more, just to name a few! The God-inspired, living Word of God has been perfectly designed to help lead us, teach us, encourage us, strengthen us, discipline us, and champion us as we journey through life. It helps us become firmly rooted in foundational truth and faith. My heart’s desire is to continually increase reading the Word, which in turn will activate me to KNOW the Word and DO the Word. With that being said, I want to take this opportunity to be transparent and really practical with you by sharing a personal challenge I have faced when reading the Word, and how I have been working to remedy that!
The Bible has sometimes intimidated me - at least through my own filter in my own head - in understanding it. Have you ever felt that way? I have long struggled with this, so I would lean more towards reading the “easier to understand” verses, you know, the “good ones.” Yikes... this is not AT ALL what God intended for us to do when He gave us His Word. So, I just wanted to share a few really simple things that have helped me become more confident in diving more deeply into the Word without rushing past “the hard parts” that I may not understand.
Practically speaking, if I am unclear of what a certain passage means, I have learned to...
1. Read more thoroughly for context around it. Go back and maybe read a chapter (or the whole book!), to get more context. Who is speaking, who are they speaking to? I’m no history major or Bible scholar, but at least learning who is speaking & getting a better idea of what is going on in the surrounding chapters and verses is a great help.
2. Re-read what you just read! Just as repetition helps us retain knowledge, how much more will repetition help us retain the Word of God and increase our faith! I try to read a passage at least 2-3 times for more understanding. (A personal example... I think I have read Exodus 14 probably at least ten times in the past few weeks. Not only has it helped me to grasp more of that incredibly powerful example of God’s faithfulness & miracle-working ways, but it has helped strengthen, encourage, & increase my faith in challenging moments). We all need examples in the Word to attach our faith to!
3. Look more in depth online at trusted resources or commentaries for helpful interpretations or explanations. There are many of these tools freely available.
4. I have found that cross-referencing with other translations is a great tool. This practice has really helped me to grasp more of what I’m actually reading. Of course asking the Holy Spirit for insight & understanding is paramount. But in addition to that, practically speaking, I want to encourage you to try this out… the next time you read your Bible, ask the Holy Spirit for insight, and then re-read the passage in at least one more translation. On that note, I encourage you to find a translation that is a good fit for you. For instance, I personally have difficulty staying engaged while reading the KJV which has a very specific language style, so I know that practically speaking, a different translation is more ideal for me! I typically cross-reference by reading the same passage in 3 translations, and that has been a game-changer.
5. If you get stuck- ask someone! Have conversation. I can’t tell you how many times I have asked my husband or my father-in-law what their understanding is of a certain passage. If I get stuck and just can’t seem to wrap my mind around what is being said or what on earth is going on, I will ask for help.
In closing, I want to encourage you (and myself) -- we are not inferior or “less of a Christian” just because we may not understand something (or many things) when we read the Bible. I’m pretty sure that this is a very common and likely unspoken struggle, whether you've been reading the Bible for 1 month, 1 year, or your whole life. Just like anything that is learned well, it takes repetition, studying, intentionality, and devotion. I am speaking to myself!
I hope this little window into my personal journey with reading the Word encourages you in some way. Get inspired, fall in love with the Word again. Treasure it! My prayer is that we all will come out of this month of dedication to the Word being more inspired, full of passion, and hungry for more of His Word.
by Laurie Anan
Worship Leader at Elevate Church