Word of God Speak- Mercy Me
Thy Word- Amy Grant
Agnus Dei- Michael W. Smith
(Because music is the perfect backdrop for everything...just click on the links to listen)
For years, I struggled with daily devotions. People always told me how important it was to spend even just a few minutes a day with the Lord. After all, I made time for everything else in life that I deemed as important but reading my Bible always seemed to fall at the end of my list of priorities. With the invasion of technology in the last ten years, most of us probably spend several hours a day looking at our phones or watching TV. I know I can binge watch shows on Netflix for hours or spend an entire day watching football, but I often find excuses when it comes to reading God's Word. To save time and appease my conscious, I have often used devotionals or the little Daily Bread books that I would get from church in lieu of Bible reading. Hey, at least I was reading an inspirational story and one Bible verse every day, right? This type of mindset is very common, unfortunately. I know for me, it hindered my progress in my pursuit of God and, in my opinion, showed only a partial commitment to serving Him.
I have always had a crazy, busy life. As a wife, a mom of six, and a full-time teacher, I made excuse after excuse about not having time to read my Bible. I even found myself trying to estimate the least amount of time in the Word that was acceptable for a Christian. Is 15 minutes of Bible reading enough every day? How about I read one chapter a day? That would make me feel devoted. If I was really feeling spiritual, maybe I would attempt to read the Bible through in a year...checking off the little boxes every day would definitely make me feel like I was doing the right thing by God. Usually when I tried that, I couldn't even keep up because I would skip a few days and then have a ton of scripture to read in one day. I would fly through the reading and not absorb a word of it. But at least I could say that I was doing it. I could tell others that I was reading my Bible every day. Thinking back, I realize how very pathetic that line of thinking was. What must God have thought of me? What if my spouse felt the same way about me? What if he went around thinking, "What is the least amount of time I can spend with my wife and get away with it?" What would that type of mentality say about the health of my marriage or his love for me? It would indicate an unhealthy marriage and send up a red flag of doubt as to whether or not he even wanted to be in the relationship. I wonder if that's what God thought about me?
Before I go any further, let me clarify things a bit more. There is nothing wrong with using some type of structured approach to studying the Word, like a devotional book. It is great to have some guidance as to where to read each day and at least it does get people opening their Bibles. The danger for me came in my motive and attitude about reading. Some people look at their "read-the-Bible-through-in-a-year list" with great anticipation each day, looking forward to soaking in something new about the Lord. Others use a devotional book as a springboard to deeper study and cherish the time spent in the Word. That's awesome! I would go through times like that where I was excited about reading. But, overall, I procrastinated and put off reading like it was a chore or read mostly because it was what a good Christian should do. I felt like I was trying to live up to other Christians' standards of holy living by checking off a daily list of to-do's for God. Read a chapter, check. Say a short prayer, check. Tell someone "God is good," check...now I can spend the rest of my evening watching American Idol.
Can anyone out there relate to this mentality? Am I the only one who has tried to fit God into my schedule and has only tried to do the bare minimum in order to satisfy my conscious? Have any of you made numerous New Year's resolutions to spend more time with God only to fail to keep them? I know I'm not on my own island here. I would bet there are many who struggle with having the motivation and desire to read the Bible. How about you, do you know more about the lives of Chandler and Monica or the latest Bachelor than you do about Jesus? Do you find yourself satisfied with only a fraction of time in the Word? If so, it's time for a change in motive and attitude. But how do we change? Let me tell you what happened in my life.
Sometimes, God uses our circumstances to change us. Over the last three years, a transformation happened in me. Kacie's cancer battle turned my life, my heart, my mind, and my relationship with God upside-down. Her sickness left me with an enormous amount of downtime. I sat by her hospital bed for two years years and then spent the last year at home trying to heal after she passed. Not only have I had nothing but time, but I was flooded with questions inside of me about God and how He works. I have wrestled with every aspect of salvation and sanctification that exists. God used this trial to shake me to the core. I could have easily ran in the other direction but God must have had a firm grasp on me and thankfully, He didn't let go. Instead, I became so thirsty for answers to my questions that I couldn't get enough of studying the Bible. No longer did I only read out of expectation or guilt, I read because I needed to know the truth. I had to immerse myself in it so I could survive and stand firm in my faith. If I was going to trust God to walk with me through a literal "valley of the shadow of death," I had to understand Him better and know how He works. As Dr. Phil always says, this time period was a changing "day" in my life.
When Christ draws us to Himself, He transforms us. For most of us, that transformation (also called sanctification) is not immediate. It usually takes years for us to really know and become more like Him. That's how God works. He uses our trials and suffering to slowly make us into the individual that deserves (in a way) the free salvation that we received before we changed. Our pain and suffering changes us in every way and is a necessary element of developing our character (James 1: 2-4). As awful as our family's journey through cancer was, it has brought about changes in me and others that probably could have never happened any other way. One of those changes was the renewing of my mind through the study of scripture (Romans 12:2). It has transformed my relationship with Christ, my theology, my beliefs, my personality, my choices, my love for God, and my attitude about the Bible.
Like many of you, I spent years struggling with the establishment of a daily time with God. Moral obligation was the main reason I felt I should read the Bible. To be honest, I never really knew what to even read on any given day. Yeah, I knew lots of scriptures and some Bible stories, but my legitimate knowledge of the Bible was slim. Now, I have a completely new and different outlook on scripture. I know firsthand that it shapes us and our love for God. It reveals God's character to us in a way that nothing else can. It speaks to our spirit and it draws us into a deeper relationship with God. There is no shortcut or another quick and easy way to achieve what intense study of scripture can. But, if this is the case, why do we tend to avoid it and treat it like a chore? Why do so few Christians read and study the Bible on a regular basis? I think it all comes down to the condition of our hearts. When we are really exposed to what God has done for us and it really sinks in, we will hunger for His Word. Our lives will be transformed by its truths and there won't be enough time in the day for all the things we want to look up. For me, the only way I came to this realization was by having my world completely rocked. What a shame. I missed out on how amazing God really is for so many years because my focus was on myself, my family, and my desires and I didn't have time for the Bible. Now, I don't have time for lots of other things because of my passion to study. I sometimes get "in trouble" with my family because I am not paying attention to them when my mind is engrossed in what I'm learning. Sure, there are still days when I don't read and spurts that I go through when I have to focus on a project briefly or spend some extra energy on things of this world, but now I would rather be in the Word. It is such a treasure to me. I get annoyed when I have too many other things to focus on. I don't feel obligated to read and I don't hold myself to some standard of holiness; I read because it feeds my soul. And if I go too long without reading, it affects me in every way.
If you are like I was and you wrestle with this in your daily life, begin to pray about it. Pray that God will give you an unquenchable desire for His Word. And then, like Nike, Just Do It. Start reading. Pick a book and read slowly so you can think about what you are reading. Pick a topic to study. Once you get into a good study, the snowball will start rolling. If you are a Christian and you cannot relate to this post because you actually have no desire to read the Bible, no conviction about it, and you have no plans to ever start, then that is a whole other can of worms. If this is you, please feel free to email me so we can chat. For others, if you would like some suggestions on how to really get into the Word or how to spark your desire to study more intently, watch for an upcoming post called, "But, What Do I Read?" Until next time...
Hello and WELCOME to my site! My name is Amanda Yates and I am a 41 year-old mom of six children from a blended family. I am a middle school teacher and a passionate follower of Christ. In my "free" time, I love finding and decorating my home with country antiques, organizing, studying scripture, and making every attempt to get my life "just right." I am blessed beyond measure!
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