This year, my favorite Christmas present was from Johanna.
Pretty, isn’t it? But that isn’t why I love it so much. And it’s not like I don’t have 47 ESV Bibles lying around my room. I’d nearly covered all the colors of the rainbow: black, pink, blue… No, the point is not the Bible itself, but the heart that gave it.
Neatly folded and tucked inside the Bible was an article by Noel Piper entitled “Never In January”. In it, she talks about the fight for faithfulness and fruitfulness in daily Bible reading. I’ve gone through Crossway’s “Every Day In The Word” reading plan at least twice. I loved it and if you’ve never done a similar plan, I recommend it. But I think halfway through my third time through, I realized I had to do something else. My time with the Lord was becoming so routine. “OT: check, NT: check, Psalms: check, Proverbs: check. Okay, fulfilled my righteousness quota for the day.” Ouch. What was once a good routine had become legalism. I inherently assumed I was earning favor with God by the time I spent daily with him, and looked down on people who didn’t. Disgusting Pharasaism. I had to repent and mix it up. Since then, I’ve had sweet times with the Lord in experiencing freedom in my study time. I can read where I need to read instead of where I’ve planned to read. But I took that too far as well… and soon became lax in my reading, skipping a few days, and eventually, not reading at all. Before I knew it, I was spiritually starved and essentially saying to God, in my neglect of prayer and time spent with Him in the Word, “Sorry, don’t have time for you. I can make it on my own, thanks.” Abominable Godless behavior. I was very soon becoming a spiritual zombie and I’m thankful beyond words for friends who noticed and spoke up.
So, if going too far in one direction makes a Pharisee and too far in the other makes a zombie, how do you find the balance? This quote from Noel’s article really helped:
“This time, I became a hunter, and my blue highlighter was my weapon. The prey was God’s attributes. I set out to underline everything the Bible says about God (didn’t want to set my sights too narrow!). I made blue stripes through all the names of God, word pictures about him, what he likes and dislikes, how he reacts to faithfulness and to sin. I was on my third pen when I finished. This “hunt for God” was irresistible to me. It drew me like a magnet. And once I was inside the pages, it kept my mind moving-no more drowsing and waking up two chapters later.”
It inspired me. It challeneged me. Why am I reading the Bible? What’s the point? What’s the focus? What’s the fruit? If I’m reading the Bible just because it’s a good Christian thing to do, then I’m treading dangerously legalistic waters. If I’m only reading when I feel like it, then I’m saying I only need Jesus sometimes and believing the lies that say ________ is more important/sweet/enjoyable than spending intimate time with God in His Word. Either way, I’m cheating myself.
So – what’s my daily Bible reading philosophy now? Just read something. A verse, a chapter, a whole book, in chronological order, or whatever you want. But do it. And do it purposefully. I’m hunting for God’s faithfulness with a pink highlighter and I started in Genesis. If I feel like I need to read James or Psalms or Hosea, then I do. If I don’t feel led to read anything in particular, then I go right back to Genesis. And regardless, I pray for open eyes to see His faithfulness and trust He’ll bring the fruit in it’s season.
What about you? What are you hunting for?
Music: Tom Wuest – “Rain Down Heaven”