by April Kyle
Recently, I’ve had to come to grips with my constant impulse and obsession to be a part of –and to purchase– the latest and greatest “thing” — journal, online study, blog, video/DVD, new study Bible….etc. etc. etc — in order to “be more sincerely spiritual, and stay hip and cool” all the while growing in my relationship with God through personal study of the Holy Scripture.
I also battle a constant panicky feeling that I’m behind, that I’ve not studied enough, and I’m not up on the knowledge scale of where I should be. As a ministry leader and teacher, and as a homeschool mom, this has been a serious point of contention — insecurity — for me in regards to the calling I’ve been given by my Creator.
I battled this intense anxiety once again at the close of a Bible study/teaching training I recently attended in Mississippi…my mind began to race as I put myself into “game on” mode, deciding to be sure to read the whole Bible through by the end of the following week, alongside any suggested study helps, not to mention Grudem’s Systematic Theology would need to accompany my personal quiet time…along with, of course, my “other version” study Bible, my Jewish study Bible, my two Old Testament commentaries…and on and on and on… all the while coloring/drawing/stamping in the wide margins of my journaling Bible, AND remembering to post to social media so everyone would know that I had my quiet time…which by this point would’ve lasted 4-5 hours…and trying to compensate for never taking a Hebrew or Greek class….WHA?????
Even in moments like these when I’m looking for a paper bag to breath into or to hide in, I find myself returning to the one thing I cannot do without. That one method that brings me back to center. The one correct answer to almost every Sunday school question. Read the Bible and pray, then pray and read the Bible.
Read the Bible and pray, then pray and read the Bible!
Several years ago, God brought Chronological Bible Storying into my life. It was perfect timing. My Loving Abba knew I was frustrated in my walk with Him, and struggling with where to go next in my quiet time with Him once the DVD driven Bible study and workbook homework were done… What do I read? What does it mean? Reading the Bible chronologically has literally changed my life.
I used to sit under my favorite Bible teachers and preachers wondering how to get “that kind of connection” with God and His Word. Nobody would’ve guessed I was floundering. Christian home, christian school, Bible institute student, christian college grad, small group leader… All this, yet my quiet time with the Creator of the Universe was dull and minimal. I was a child of God and I knew I had the Holy Spirit…AND I knew I had the right Bible because I would make sure I was using the same ones those expert teachers were using!!! Studying God’s Story chronologically, recognizing that it is indeed one story — not many isolated tales of interesting people — changed my perception and really empowered me to dig in deep and grow in my walk with God.
- What does this passage teach me about God? About man? About sin? About grace?
- What is happening just before this passage? Just after?
- Who is talking in the passage? Who is the human author of this passage?
- What does this mean for me right now? Does this apply to me today? Because, “If this Book is true, then what?”
Sometimes not all the questions work or apply, but my guided thinking helps me grasp more of God’s Word than I would without them.
I typically use a journal or I just write notes in my Bible, sometimes I simply say the answers aloud. I’ll confess, not every day do I get to relish in God’s Word this methodically. However, I’ve been given the Ultimate Teacher to guide me so I can receive spiritual nourishment from His Word-Feast in the Scripture…
I believe as American Christians, we can get pulled away from God by the sparkly things that say “God-things.” We seek stuff about God rather than actually seeking His Face. God speaks through His Word…yes He speaks into our different personalities and through our different circumstances, but His Word is His Very Words To Us. If we miss it, we’ll miss Him.
I’ll never forget sitting in a proctor meeting as a college student when our Dean of Men was asked to address this small group of student leaders. I remember anticipating what he would say, shifting my weight to lean in… He stood quietly and began to talk about his best friend. Love and memories. Good times and hard times. Tears brimmed in the eyes of this God-fearing man as we all began to realize that he was talking about his Bible. I couldn’t tell you one other thing that was said in that meeting. I only remember asking God to put that kind of passion into my heart for His Word.