Enough times of feeling perplexed, bored, or unsettled - combined with a busy life and many great (or not so great) things calling for my attention - and I'd give up on Bible reading. For long stretches of time. I still encountered the Word in church or in Christian books, but my own Bible gathered dust.
Finally, I decided to take God at His Word when He said that I as His disciple have been permitted to understand His teachings. I made up my mind to believe Him when He stated that His Word would not return to Him void - that it would accomplish His purposes (Isa 55:11). I bought a study Bible and gave it permanent residence on my kitchen table.
I'd read it for 5 minutes while I ate breakfast. I'd read while I sat there waiting for my then-homeschooled kids to complete a workbook page. I'd read it during my afternoon I-just-need-some-iced-tea-right-now moments. In little snippets of time here and there, I'd read it.
There are lots of Bible reading plans out there one can follow. You can read one chapter of Proverbs a day for a month. You can read through the Bible chronologically. You can do a book study. But I didn't have any grand plan for studying it other than to obediently show up and read something. However, before I would began I'd pray for God to illuminate the scriptures and to help me understand Him.
If I didn't understand something despite that prayer, I'd look in the study notes on the page. If I still didn't get it, I didn't sweat it. I chose to believe in faith that the time spent reading was not wasted time - regardless of whether or not I "got it." And to believe that anything that seemed contradictory was simply due to a temporary lack of understanding on my part. I showed up with faith the next day and read again anyway.
You do know that God honors faith, right? In fact, He says it pleases Him (Heb 11:6). I'm all about crafting a life that's pleasing to God. (You might want to look up that verse and write it in your INS notebook!)
Soon I learned to flip back and read the whole passage or the whole chapter the perplexing part was in to catch important details or story set-ups. Or even to to back all the way up to the beginning of the book, and to read the study Bible's introduction of the book for the context of who wrote it, to whom and why.
I didn't use commentaries and I hadn't yet discovered the wonder of websites like biblegateway or crosswalk. It was just me, Jesus and my study Bible at the kitchen table.
And just showing up off and on during my week days worked. Jesus showed up too, with divine salve to anoint my eyes for the task.
I've since learned to read footnotes, follow cross reference numbers, and use my concordance. But I learned all of that by myself in my kitchen over mugs of coffee with cream. Among Cheerios and crumbs. With Dora the Explorer playing in the back ground. (I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map ...)
Now that my children are in school I have more space and time to read and study. I have multiple Bibles and commentaries. And I meet weekly with my pastor and a few other people to talk about scripture. But it all drives back to just learning to show up and spend some time with God in the Word.
I still have I-don't-understand-this-part moments. *In fact I'll tell you about a recent one in the next post when I give you step two. But I've found that the very first step to becoming a woman who loves God's Word is just to SHOW UP and read it with faith that He will supply understanding.
Choose to assume that any confusion is only temporary - because God never hides truth from sincere seekers!
"Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you." Matt. 7:7 (NLT)
I trust this post will help someone out there decide to just show up and read in faith.