This is the year you were going to do it, and you started as planned on New Year’s Day after the kids finished lunch while watching the parade. You climbed into your comfiest chair and read “In the beginning …”
Your plan was to read the Bible cover to cover this year, but you’re not even halfway through Leviticus, and you keep getting distracted. You glance jealously at the novels on your bookshelf before scolding yourself and plunging back into a lecture about how to sacrifice goats correctly. Goats? Where’s the inspiration people talk about? Where are the messages from God to guide me through my problems? Do you feel like the only one who thinks this is boring and doesn’t understand why some of the content is included?
The Bible is an amazing book, but it’s not always easy to read. And for every exciting moment where Moses confronts Pharaoh, there are pages and pages of dull history or excruciating detail about things like goat sacrifices. The books of the Bible were written in ancient times for people who lived very different types of lives. Modern translations have helped us grasp the messages, but long stretches can be anything but exciting.
It’s not a sin to say the Bible can be boring. Exercise isn’t always fun and exciting, but we do it because we know it’s important to our physical and mental health. Reading and studying the Bible is every bit as important to our spiritual health. Fortunately, there are things you can do to make reading it easier and more understandable.
Pray for help
God gave us the Bible so we could better understand life and His plan for us. More importantly it tells us Who He is. There’s nothing wrong with being asked to be filled with the Spirit so we can grasp the meaning and be drawn to the messages we need right now.
Learning is rarely easy. Whether you’re studying trigonometry, English grammar, or what the Psalmist wanted us to know, learning new things forces us to strain and stretch. Be patient with yourself if the messages aren’t immediately obvious. Reflect on them and you’ll discover the answers.
Find a guide
Remember SparkNotes (or Cliffs Notes, for those with a few more birthdays)? Their real purpose wasn’t to allow you to skip the books, but to help you understand what you were reading, from setting, to context, to symbolism and more. There are Bible reading guides and websites that can help you gain a greater understanding, providing the context that brings a chapter to life and bring meaning as well.
Try project lessons
After your finish your day’s reading, try projecting the messages upon your own life and challenges. How can you apply what you just read to what goes on around you? What can you learn from what happened? Who is God telling us he in in the midst of the words?
Ask your pastor
When you encounter a confusing or difficult concept, or a story that seems out of step with what you believe, bring it to your pastor’s attention. They can give you more insight into the meaning and guide you to resources to deepen your knowledge.
One last thought: setting out to read the Bible is like planning a hike through a beautiful park. If you go into the hike saying, “I’m going to get those 15,000 steps, even if it kills me,” you’re going to have a very different experience than if you say, “I wonder what kinds of beauty I’m going to find along the way.”
Have you been struggling to reconcile your faith and your daily life? The professional counselors at Care to Change can help you better understand yourself and what may be holding you back from living the life God intends for you. Why not contact us to set a time to talk?