When I was a young mom, reading the Bible regularly was always a challenge for me. I went in spurts and starts. I always loved reading the Bible, but not enough to make it happen every day. I remember I used to wonder what it was that hindered me. After all, I made dinner every day even though I didn’t always feel like it. I showered. I brushed my teeth. I did countless other duties day in and day out. Why was Bible reading so hard to fit it? Actually, I made it way too hard on myself and set up ridiculous and unrealistic standards and hurdles.
First of all, I was tempted to stop and analyze my problem. “Why don’t I read my Bible more? I wonder what the problem is?” What I should have done instead was say to myself, “I know! Rather than trying to figure out why I don’t read my Bible more, why don’t I just pick it up and read it right now?” If only I had thought of that back then. Even if I had only read a verse or two, it would have been much better than contemplating the causes of my erratic Bible reading.
Second, I think I was coming to the Bible trying to be a super-Bible-reader. I was going to the Bible looking for a “devotional experience,” and I seldom had one. So I figured that I must not be reading deeply enough or thoughtfully enough. This just bogged me down so that I was trying hard to digest each word. That is not reading! It is sort of like taking each bite of the food on your plate and trying to taste it to the fullest, getting every bit of flavor out before pressing on to the next bite. This would be terribly tedious and wouldn’t improve your dining experience at all. In fact, dinner would be just so many bites and not really a meal at all. When I put such high expectations on my reading, I kept going back and re-reading anything I thought I had glossed over too lightly. This made reading through the Bible more like a hard assignment than a time of refreshment, so no wonder I drug my feet.
Third, I had a perception about a daily “quiet time” that imposed a super-law on myself. If I read my Bible, I could tick off the box and feel good about my spiritual discipline. But if I didn’t read the Bible, I flunked. This leaves God entirely out of the equation. Who said I have to read my Bible and have a “devotional experience” every day? Daily Bible reading is a great idea, but it is not a work that we do to impress God. Rather than viewing it as a means of meeting with God and growing in grace, I saw it as an end in itself. “Whew! I did my Bible reading for the day.”
Fourth, I didn’t always know where to read. I used some reading charts that helped, but then I got stalled out by ticking off the boxes again. And when you are a busy mother with many distractions, who has time to read a whole chapter? I would lose my place and forget what I’d read the day before.
Finally, reading seemed like it was the ultimate bonus after getting all my work done. This was probably my biggest hindrance to regular Bible reading because when, oh when, was all the work done? And by that time, I’m was too tired to read.
All this sounds pretty dreadful, but I did keep plugging along.
Now I don’t know if any of you find that you are hindered by any of these things. But if so, let me just urge you to quit analyzing and start reading. Relax. Enjoy the story God has written for us. Put a bookmark in the OT and another one in the NT and just start reading a bit every day. Grab a moment here and there. Don’t worry about trying to find a chunk of uninterrupted time because you might never find it. Keep your Bible handy. Listen to it on tape. Sing it. Love it.