Already I can hear groans from many quarters.
If anything has that “religious” stigma, this is it.
Okay. We get challenged on Sunday by the preacher to become People of the Word.
We even recognise the huge benefits of living by scriptural principles, and get inspired by testimonies of the life-changing power of the Word of God in other people’s lives.
So we resolve to read the bible every day, even setting goals to read the whole thing through in one year. We might even start off the first week really well (although we might skip over all the “begats” in Genesis or Matthew's gospel.)
But with the busyness of life, we get too tired or too pressured to keep it up with the same enthusiasm and sense of destiny we had when we began -- especially when we hit those difficult passages. It becomes a daily grind to “get through today's chapter”. If we have any maturity and self-discipline at all, we do it with gritted teeth. Then we can get back to watching our favorite program or computer game.
Obviously, what I’ve described is not precisely everyone's experience, but many of you will understand what I’m talking about.
Why can't we experience that “spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” all the time?
To me there has never been any magic formula to achieve this. Any success I’ve had is because of my relationship with the Father. The time when it has impacted me the most is after worship, or an experience of the presence of God in some way.
Yes, it’s a discipline -- at least to begin with. There are times when you are digging hard into the gold-mine of scripture to find those nuggets, called “breakthroughs”. Then you come across a golden seam that yields truth after truth that really sets you free! (See John 8:30-32).
It’s also an acquired taste, so to speak. If life becomes disrupted, or if I merely become slack, I miss those special times when I can “taste and see that the Lord is good.” But that didn’t happen overnight. Like any relationship, it’s a process. Like any living, dynamic thing, it needs to be fed to grow into something powerful.
It’s a hunger! When everything else we read loses its flavour, leaving us feeling empty or leads us to despair, the scriptures can give us hope, direction, encouragement, incredible wisdom and much more -- but only when God the Holy Spirit is there, and we admit our hunger.
So let's look at bible reading and study from a Relationship perspective like we did before, using the romance scenario:
A young couple fall madly in love. Because of the geographical distance between them, they write to/email/text each other every day, often throughout the day. They can't wait to read their lover’s love-letter response/email reply or text reply to all the honest thoughts and feelings they poured out in their last message. It puts them in a good mood for the rest of the day.
Then they get married.
They don’t have to communicate their thoughts and feelings by letter/email/text any more. Right?
Have you ever tried putting down your thoughts and feelings occasionally in a letter/email to your spouse or your kids? From my own personal experience, it can do wonders!
You don’t have to be a skilled writer to touch the heart of your loved ones, if it comes from your heart in the first place. But God did that for me through the bible.
I heard a story once about a woman who was given a book to read by a friend.
How did she like it?
It was so boring! She found it hard to understand and gave up on it halfway through.
Years later, she met up with her friend and spoke about the same book.
It was wonderful! She found it sooo absorbing and learnt so much from it, even after reading it for the 100th time.
Surprised, her friend asked her the reason for such a radical change of opinion.
“I met and married the author!” was the reply.