Ever since I was young I have loved reading novels. I felt as though I had entered a whole new world with every book I opened, and the characters within them became some of my dearest friends.
More recently I’ve been into reading nonfiction books written by celebrities or successful people who want to share their story. A favorite of mine this past year is a book called Girl, Wash Your Face. I had been itching to read it ever since I skimmed the inside cover during a previous Barnes & Noble trip. After reading the introduction, I was already underlining and highlighting words like crazy. It’s an inspiring book that explains many of the lies women tell themselves and documents one hilarious woman’s journey to overcome them. Every crazy struggle she had resonated with me, and I rejoiced with her as she overcame each one. I felt like I could change, too. All too often, though, we read self-help books that inspire change, but we never follow through.
Why Don’t I Pick Up the Bible?
Reflecting back on reading it though, I realized that we have been given the greatest self-help book of all time, the Bible. It does not contain stories of women who laugh so hard they pee their pants in public (Girl, Wash Your Face, I’m looking at you), so we don’t always relate to it and therefore want to pick it up to see the life-changing magic that’s inside.
It’s hard to understand God’s Word sometimes and it’s challenging to put it into action, which is why we can so easily neglect it. When other people’s lives relate to ours, we find a way to say, “Hey, if they can do that, so can I!” If the story is made up of characters, we still find a way to believe it’s possible to do what they do. How many children dress up as superheroes and wizards believing that they can be just like their hero? Well, my true hero is Jesus, and he’s given me the most precious book in my possession. Yet, it’s probably the book that has collected the most dust.
All too often, we read self-help books that inspire change, but we never follow through.
That’s where perspective comes to play. If I could know God as well as I know my favorite characters, if I could read about Him as much as I do them, if I could learn how to embody Him in my everyday life, would I? The answer is yes, a thousand times yes! If I had the chance to read God’s Word more and live out my days more Christ-like, I would do it. We have that opportunity daily, and yet we often choose to push it aside because it’s hard. Just like it can be hard for some people to read a book and dream up some characters, it’s hard for people to have a relationship with someone who is not physically there.
Here’s the beauty though: God is always with us, and whenever we realize we miss having a relationship with Him, He has His arms open waiting for us. That’s not to say we should blow Him off without care, but if we happen to do so (we are human after all), He is there to say that He never stopped loving us. It’s just like Jesus’ story of the prodigal son in the Bible. A man gave equal shares to his two sons. One blew it all rather quickly and ended up broke and hungry. He then realized his father’s servants were well fed and taken care of, so he decided to head home and apologize and ask his father to give him a job as he believed he was not worthy to be his son. “So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him,” (Luke 15:20).
Our Father is the same way—we can leave Him on a shelf to collect dust, but the minute we realize the error of our ways, He is there to welcome us home with open arms. It’s just like the Harry Potter quote that says, “Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” I’m here to tell you that Jesus will always be there to welcome you home. Whether you go astray, haven’t chatted with Him in a while, or you just leave his book up on the shelf to collect dust, He is there with open arms waiting to wrap you in His love.
So, if you’re at all like me and need some help in getting started, here are a few tips to get your nose inside this perfect book.
1. Make Reading a Priority
In order to stop leaving God’s Word unread, I began making it a priority to read it every day. Even though every day may seem like a lot, the more you do it, the more routine it will feel. Plus, God loves to spend time with us, and this is a sure way to do so.
2. Pick a Time of Day that Works Best
While some may find it easiest to read right before bed, I personally find it to be more effective to read first thing in the morning, that way whatever I read is in my mind the whole day. If you read the Bible right before bed, you are less likely to retain the information the next morning than if you read it in the morning before going on with your day. Some people however, cannot focus first thing in the morning so they prefer reading at night or in the afternoon. Find what time of the day you are most productive in and read your Bible then. It will be the most beneficial to you.
3. Find an Accountability Partner
Another thing I did was I found an accountability partner, someone who wanted to make a commitment to reading the Bible every day just like I do. An accountability partner is a big key towards stepping up your reading game. That way, whenever I feel like being lazy or I’m “too busy,” they will push me to put God first just as I will do the same for them. Having someone to check in with daily makes you want to not break your commitment to them as well and therefore adds more motivation.
4. Write Out What You’re Planning to Read Ahead of Time
If you have something to look back and reference, you’ll be more likely to remember to do your reading and feel accountable to doing it. Plus, sometimes the biggest barrier to spending time with your Bible is not knowing where to start, so this tip will nip that excuse in the bud. If you go off course and read more, that’s great! The important thing is that you are reading something. Whether you use a planner, a notepad, or a reminder app on your phone, write it down! It will not only remind you if you forget but keep you accountable as well for catching up on what you missed.
Whether you go astray, haven’t chatted with Him in a while, or you just leave his book up on the shelf to collect dust, God is there with open arms waiting to wrap you in His love.
5. Choose A Thorough Bible Study
Bible studies are a great way to break down large chunks of text into manageable pieces. Most will focus on a phrase, concept, or passage, and deconstruct the meaning behind it. As you work through the study, answering prompts and highlighting common themes, you’ll find yourself spending more time mulling over the verses and the overall message. It’s easy to feel lost in the language, but footnotes and supplemental discussion points will allow you to get the most from your reading. And once you come to understand the Bible more and make the important connections between God’s Word and your life, you’ll find it easier to open your Bible.
I recommend checking out the Bible studies from The Daily Grace Co. With an assortment of titles on various subjects and books of the Bible, you can choose one (or several, like I did) that best speaks to the place of life that you’re in right now. These studies focus on various chapters and verses, and will challenge you to think about the Bible as a timely and relevant resource for building your faith. LifeWay also offers a great selection of studies for individuals and groups.
To read more on building your faith, check out:
How to Have Your Own Coffee + Bible Time
This Is My New Exercise Regimen (for My Faith)
What Does It Mean to Be a Virtuous Woman?
How a Woman of Grit and Grace Wears Her Faith
It Was an Undeniable Miracle I Will Never Forget
Bible Verses From the Grit and Grace Team on Grace
Building Faith: Growing in Your Relationship with God
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