I’ve noticed that there are days when my time spent in the Word is not as fulfilling as I would like it to be. My purposes for reading the Bible have been varied, and I think that this has been a cause of the varied results I’ve been receiving. Here are a few techniques I have noticed that have hindered my ability to openly read and understand the Word of God. Maybe you can relate to one or all of these…
Magic Eight Ball– This is where I will randomly flip around different pages of the Bible with my eyes closed, and then point to a verse that “I know God REALLY wanted me to read.” One problem with the magic eight ball technique is that sometimes you point at verses such as those found in 2 Kings chapter 2, which tell the story of Elisha calling two bears to maul 42 children for making fun of his bald head (To be honest I haven’t made fun of my dad’s lack of hair since reading this, so I guess that’s one lesson I learned from Elisha). However, I need to remember that the Bible is not intended to send me magical answers from God by random chance. The Bible is supposed to be analyzed and studied. The more we learn about the Word of God, the more we learn about God himself. I need to remind myself to read it, study it, annotate it, analyze it, reread it. Don't treat it like a magic eight ball.
Fortune Cookie– The fortune cookie approach, I’m ashamed to admit, is one of my most frequented uses of the Bible. This happens when I’m reading the Bible during my quiet time, and I’m looking for that one nugget of truth I can take with me throughout the day. I’m just trying to find that one catchy verse that says what I want to hear, and as soon as I find it I stop reading. First of all, the whole Bible is one big nugget of truth, so to search for a little piece of that seems foolish. Secondly, in searching for my “fortune of the day” I disregard tons of other great verses. I become so focused on picking out a small part of the Bible that I miss God’s overall message that he is sending to me. Yes, it’s great to memorize verses or write them on one’s hand, but trying to dissect a small portion of the Bible can cause us to miss out on the grander purpose that God had in writing his Word.
10 Chapters in 5 Minutes– Another name for this style of reading is the Sparknotes approach. This is when I try to cram as much of the Bible as I can into my head before I head out into my day. Often times I read the Bible simply to meet my “quota” for the day. Obviously I get nothing out of this type of reading, but somehow I feel so accomplished because “Hey, I just read a whole book of the Bible in one morning. That must make me some sort of professional or something.” No! The saying “quality not quantity” could not possibly be more accurate than when used to refer to reading the Bible. There is nothing wrong with reading one chapter per day, or even just one verse. All I need to do is give God the chance to speak to me, and he will, no matter how long or how briefly we read. *Disclaimer: this as not an excuse to read one quick verse, think about it for two seconds and then call it quits. I must read diligently, and get the most out of every verse and every chapter.
Personalized Autocorrect- Personalized Autocorrect pretty much explains itself. This occurs when I’m reading the Bible, and I come across a verse that I don’t like, so I just cross it out. It’s kind of like I’m saying to God “Hey, Look I see that this is your word and all that jazz and that’s cool, but I’m really just not feeling this one section right here. Is it alright if I just go ahead and ignore that? I mean obviously you can’t be serious about EVERYTHING in here right?” Yeah, no. It’s hard for me to accept every single verse that God has placed in the Bible because frankly some of it is hard to take. I don’t want to be told that I can’t lie. I don’t want to be told that my heart is naturally sinful. I don’t want to hear about how terrible humans are, and I especially don’t want to hear about what hell is like and how much I deserve to go there. Some of the Bible is tough to swallow, but I am learning that if I want all of God’s grace I need to accept all of His Word.
I think that the best way to approach the Bible is with a clear mind and a clear heart. You have to be open to whatever God is going to say to you. Don’t pick a verse randomly, don’t focus on one small part of the grander message, don’t cram too much in, and don’t edit everything out to make it sound nice. Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose…yes, that saying is about the Bible.