Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Step One: Show Up

In the introduction to It's No Secret (page 20) I admitted my frustration at often feeling I couldn't track with the Bible. I couldn't seem to "get" whatever other people seemed to get out of reading it. I'd read it, kind of haphazardly, and run into things I just didn't understand. Anybody else out there relate?

Sometimes I felt I understood the verses well enough, but found their message wholly unsettling. In fact, there were things I read about God - especially in the Old Testament - that contradicted what I believed about Him and His ways. That'll mess with a Jesus girl's head!  This ever happened to you?

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.

Over time I'd read enough sections that pieces started fitting together. Something I didn't understand last month suddenly made sense now that I'd read this part today. Lights would go on. Connections were made.

More and more was making sense!

Again, I didn't spend hours of time at this. I had little kids at home. Plus, I have an open floor plan in my home (translation: not a lot of quiet spots to study in.) I also had a part-time job.

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.


  1. God is so good to show up when we are desiring to please Him and hear what he has to say. It must please Him for His Jesus Girls to spend time with Him. Thank you for your study and sharing your life with Christ. Love those precious moments with Him.

  2. I have been readidng God's word every day for 12 years with a break of a year due to some nasty health issues (now pretty well resolved.) I still have times when I read a passage and say what is this all about. It is as clear as mud to me. What is wrong with me. I, like you, am learning that over time and much study it starts to make sense. I doubt I will ever understand all of the Word until I reach glory but that is fine. The confusion keeps me coming back for more.

    Thanks so much Rachel. Your blog posts always have a message worth reading and pondering. Bless you.

  3. Thank you Rachel! This is an area where I struggle so much.

    Inconsistency troubles me and I struggled with not having enough time to spend in the Word of God.
    So I found myself starting Bible reading plans on YouVersion, then I had Through The Bible chronologically but never finishing to only become discouraged at my efforts.
    But today I feel liberated in that those 5 minutes here and 15 minutes there are a blessing.

    Because I can spend hours reading, studying and pouring over the Word, I became frustrated with only 10 minutes to spare. I see now that my inconsistency is my own ridgidness and stubborness. I felt that if I could not spend an hour then I didn't spend any time at all and that hurt me over and over again.

    You are always so encouraging and I thank God for you often. Showing up is important! My thinking is revamped now because showing up is the first step!!

  4. I so appreciate that you shared your journey of studying the Bible. I know so many women that just want to understand everything at once, and get easily frustrated {and I so remember being there}. Thank you for showing us that the small steps of faith do matter. I'll be sending a few friends over to your post.

  5. Really awesome.

    This has been a huge theme for me lately. I've been writing about it on my blog, too :)

    One thing that is so important for us to understand is that when we read God's Word....Jesus meets us there! Jesus Himself! Why? Because He IS the Word! (John 1:14, Revelation 19:13) He can't help but meet us there!

    This post encourages me :) I hope you have a wonderful week, Rachel!

    Kate :)

  6. I'm visiting your blog today from Melissa's website & following along with the bible study. I finished Chapter 1 last night & will work on the questions this evening. I'm really enjoying it so far & I'm glad you shared more information about this on your blog today.
    I can relate so well with difficulty understanding verses or inconsistency issues. I belonged to a church for over 4 years whom had very different approaches to interpreting scriptures. I recently left that church & was lead to a bible believing, spirit-filled church with a very knowledgeable Pastor.
    At first, it was hard to grasp certain things that I had onced believed or thought were true, but I trusted God because the word states that He is not a God of confusion (1 Cor 14:33). The more I listened to his sermons & read God's word for myself, trusting the Spirit's leading, things that used to confuse me now made the clearest sense. Now there are still some things I struggle with or will come across that is new to me, but I've been given the tools that I need - as you've mentioned - to help in those instances.

  7. Rachel,

    I am so glad I popped over to Renee's blog today and found out about your book! And I am even more thrilled that I popped over to your blog and read today's post! WOW! THANK YOU!

    I am ordering your book as soon as I get home!

    Love you and thank you for your ministry!

    Tammy Nischan

  8. Rachel,
    Thank you for encouraging us to keep reading and studying even when we feel that we don't Understand. In my own experience, understanding may not come for months. But one day, when I'm meditating on some trouble, I recall a particular passage that is relevant and, now, understandable.

  9. The next word for the week should be Keep on".lol

    Showing up for me is with my bible notebook and a cup of coffee ( or tea ) and knowing Jesus is sitting right by me showing me scripture or web sites that I need to help either myself or someone else- He did it again yesterday. It was great.

  10. I find myself in that same boat. I start reading and when something comes up in life I end up taking long breaks. I think a large part of it is me just reading without waiting for God to show up and reveal deeper meaning. He has always been so willing to 'Show Up' when I seek him out, that I don't really know why I am always willing to give up on studying so easily.

    I have found in my adult life that God comes in and shows me things, truths, or sacred secrets in a new light. I have found that as a child my perceptions of God were one of rigidness. My mom, with all good intentions, left me with some slanted views of who he is and our place in him.But,I love when God come in and shows me his truths in a new light.

  11. Rachel,

    I think we can all relate to this! Thank you so much for sharing :)
    My new saying is when we show up, God has the opportunity to show off.

    I'm so so happy to be studying your awesome book with all these INS Girls!

  12. Just showing up...I have never thought so much about a phrase. I can't wait to dig deeper. Thank you for sharing your story and helping me along with mine. God Bless You.

    P.S. - I couldn't agree more with bippy's comments. Wow, I'm not alone.

  13. I love "showing up" with my bible, my journal a good devotional book at my kitchen counter with a hot cup of tea. I hope there is tea in heaven.......
    Anyway, if I could choose that is how I would always 'show up" to read God's word. Unfortunately that isn't possible most of the time so I find myself reading the bible at night before I go to bed and often times I am too sleepy to get everything God has for me there. He has, however, brought verses back to me for further study when I am more awake and shown me new practical instruction from old scriptures that I have read dozens of times. I love that...and I love that you shared some of your own struggles in your post today. I too made a choice to believe that his word will not return to him void - that it would accomplish his purpose....and for that reason I will keep reading.
    Thanks Rachel

  14. So thankful for the online forum that can provide me with the chance to Show Up!!

  15. All I can say is "Thank You"!

  16. I could relate to every word in your blog, Rachel! It was all Greek to me in the beginning (and maybe Hebrew and Aramaic? :-)). I still sometimes hit things that clash with what I've come to understand so far. But, as with all the other questions I've had about God's Word, I know eventually the Holy Spirit will reveal to me how it works perfectly in God's divine plan. The Word is Christ and if we're reading Him, then He's surely going to fill us with His Spirit and help us understand His heart! It's all back to that showing up ;-) Thanks for your wisdom and encouragement, Rachel!


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