According to a 2016 LifeWay Research survey of Americans who attend a Protestant church regularly, 32% read the Bible daily and 27% read it a few times per week. 12% read it once a week and 11% a few times a month, while 5% read it just once a month. 12% admit they rarely or never read their Bible. I am part of the majority now, but reading my Bible hasn’t always been a priority in my life. Honestly, I am an underachiever and if it’s not fun, I likely won’t do it. But I am telling you the truth when I say the 5-30 minutes I invest in reading most mornings are truly precious to me. Read on; I’ll provide my top 5 reasons why and the backstory on each one.
Reason #1. Pizza
My favorite pizza is Papa John’s. The sauce, the chewy crust, the hot pepper in every box… yum! But suppose they hire a new guy and set him loose in the kitchen with no training manual. The product he turns out, even packaged in a pizza box with the right logo, will not be a Papa John’s Pizza. I know this is a cheesy analogy (no pun intended), but let me explain why it works.
Friends, I grew up in church and was even on leadership teams for about a decade. All that time, save a brief stint in my teens, I only read my Bible when I had to preach from it. I know what product I was turning out. I looked the part, yes, but I had little idea what the training manual actually said. My soul was a hot mess! I was falling to pieces from the inside out. When I landed on 3 months of bed rest, I finally listened to that voice telling me to pick up my Bible. In Romans, I discovered the overwhelming love of God for me, even at my lowest point ever. “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you?” “For we know how dearly God loves us because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”
Up to that point, I did everything in my Christian life as though God’s spirit was sent as a vindictive heavenly meanie berating me for failure. However, all along He was actually inviting me into a joyful life of partnership- an opportunity to live day-to-day by faith in His own goodness- not my sturdy ability to hop to it. I have never been the same kind of Christian since that season of bed rest. My identity reformed around being God’s girl and a student of His Word. No longer do I prioritize Him last. (Side note: my pizza from scratch game is on point too!)
Reason #2. Antennas
The Bible calls Him Wonderful Counselor. As such, God always has a personal message to download. During the years I was too busy playing Super Christian to pay attention, I know I missed out on His intervention. I wasn’t using my antenna to receive his signal. Driven by His mercy and goodness, God did try to prevent the pain and disconnection that I walked straight into. In some ways, I’m still playing catch up from that mess.
Now, opening my Bible is like raising my rabbit ears. I read it and hear a theme take shape, something the Holy Spirit wants to emphasize. Throughout the week, reinforcement comes via a worship song, a conversation with a friend, or something else I read. For 8 years, this method has added layer after layer to my faith. My relationship with Him is revolutionized.
3. “Go into all the world and make disciples” (the so-called Great Commission) starts in my living room.
There’s a reason I didn’t initially become an adult who reads the Bible. Growing up, it wasn’t a part of our Christian home, save a few dreadful times when it felt like we were all in trouble. At the beginning of our homeschool journey, My friend and fellow teacher, Nathan, challenged me to make the Bible part of our day. Honestly, I was reticent. What if I replicated my childhood experience and my kids hated it? Nathan’s sincere conviction was the encouragement I needed.
Deuteronomy 6 says to commit wholeheartedly; Repeat the Word again and again to your children. Talk about it when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Nailed this! Those 10-20 minutes sessions with Adrienne and Addison have really added up. God seriously has something to say to them- and he does it through plain old me!
Discussing the Bible so often empowers the four of us to be more forthcoming about matters of faith. In our home, Jesus is not a small thing quietly alluded to on Sundays. We will always stay a connected family- not just by common interests and special memories, but also by faith as old as Abraham.
Reason #4: Our culture is rapidly changing while the Church is hemorrhaging narcissistic, immoral male leaders.
This decade has been a whirlwind of economic upheaval, race riots, a global pandemic, a sexual revolution… Some new thing needs addressed constantly. If the Bible doesn’t directly tell me exactly how to respond, at least it provides the peace and power to move forward. I am able to interject this framework into difficult parenting conversations prompted by our culture.
Meanwhile, Church leaders are dropping like flies. Throughout my childhood, its seems like the American Church had a scandal once in a blue moon. The past 12 months alone have given us an appalling list of men in leadership engaged in debauchery which I cannot count on two hands. In many cases, their leadership teammates excused and covered for them like utter heathens. Dave Ramsey, Ravi Zacharias, Josh Duggar, Jerry Fallwell Jr…
At this rate, a girl (especially a girl) could lose her faith. Here is why I don’t: the word of God tells me that fools rise and fall but He never changes. So never mind them! Jesus repeatedly nails these frauds in scripture. They earned all the money and worthless accolades they sought. The way truly is narrow, and even churchy people with their slick extra-biblical catchphrases and their adoring fan clubs of Bible-toting followers will miss it.
My time invested in the Word of God safeguards me from being pulled into their mess. It’s the check engine light of my gut. I have a hold of faith that lets me come boldly to the throne of our gracious God and receive his mercy and grace to help me when I need it most (Hebrews 4). This is more precious than wealth and more fulfilling than the limelight of leadership. “A person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not people.” (Romans 2).
Reason #5: Oxygen
“Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.” The Bible is spiritual oxygen. I feel specifically called to be an encourager and a connector. But unless I make putting on my own mask a priority, I remain unable to help anyone.
In the past, when my friends came to me desperate and wrecked, the best I offered was pathetic platitudes. I gave people I truly valued terrible spiritual-sounding advice. I wasn’t walking by faith in anything but my own religious performance. That is not normal!
Philippians 2 tells me that what is normal for Christians: “encouragement from being united with Christ and comfort from His love.” My friends deserve this from me. When we connect, generally I have something to share, a scripture I’ve been living out that month. They do the same for me too. I am surrounded by men and women whose consistent, personal faith in God helps fill my tank.
And now for the exciting conclusion:
Remember when I said I am an underachiever? I wasn’t kidding. I am motivated by the basics- free time, adventure, and ice cream… and occasionally by coffees with cream and sprinkles. I didn’t say that I study my Bible. No way Jose. If this blog feels like a challenge thrown out, remember to approach it like a slacker but with an open mind. Think 5-10 minutes a day of reading, for starters. Let God speak to you however He will and just enjoy the journey. I’m no one special and if God is involved in my life, He has something good to say to you as well.