How many times have we felt shamed by our insufficiencies about our reading ability? Many of us know full well how bad we are at reading. We know our own struggles with wading through thousands of words, just trying to find the intended meaning of a certain book. We’re left dizzy after not only seeing sentences that are hard enough, but when we have a hundred pages more to go.
Do our struggles with reading in general apply with our reading of the Bible? Is there a difference between reading Dickens and reading Paul? Hate me if you want, but I don’t think the two have as much in common as you may be inclined to think.
Words and God’s Word
There are mere words and then there are words that hit the soul. We have all sat unmoved, in the back of a classroom where our teachers forced us to take part in a conversation about the character tropes of Huck Finn. We’ve done the dull character analyses of Romeo and Juliet. At best we got a C+ on that paper. I’m not wrong, am I?
But isn’t there a difference between the stories of our teen academic days and the stories of faith and promise that we find in our Bible? At first glance, they both are similar in that they use words. Words. That’s what reading comes down to, isn’t it? If there were no words then we wouldn’t be reading. Words are the hang up for most people.
When you say that you ‘don’t like to read,’ you’re saying that you have a bad relationship with written words. But I want to explore how this low level understanding of Bible reading is unhelpful and even detrimental to your growth.
When God Accommodates Us
We’ve all heard, but maybe not done anything with this statement: “God isn’t just your savior, he’s your Lord.” Right? We’ve heard that. We know that he is a gracious savior who has given us much, but He also demands much from us. Our relationship with Him isn’t such that we just leave the altar with no life change. We aren’t merely saved from our past but we are indeed saved to a glorious future.
There are these moments in life when you realize that someone has done something for us. It’s huge; unprecedented even. Most of us were punk teenagers. We treated our parents like dirt, only to realize in adulthood that they put up with a lot from us. We then spend our grown up years playing catch up, actually respecting and appreciating our parents.
It takes many Christians years to realize all that God has done for us. The accommodations He has provided for us.
Realize What God Has Given Us
How many of us haven’t taken seriously enough God’s Word? How many of us have had long dry spells in our life where our devotional life has been embarrassing? Every one of us, but there comes this time (or should) where we realize that we have been given God’s truth. We always pray that God should just tell us something useful. Whatever that looks like. The truth is that we are lazy. Every prayer you pray asking for ‘a Word‘ is actually an indictment against yourself. We have God’s Word but often leave it in the drawer.
God has greatly accommodated us with a vast body of truth that is both applicable and useful for our lives and wellbeing. We tend to think of God as a distant truth and not a present reality. This has got to change. He has drawn near to you. Yes, it may be in written words, but are you so arrogant that you will reject revelation just because it is in the form of words? How can you say, ‘I don’t read’ considering that this is His Word?
Motivation from Shakespear to Moses
Don’t get me wrong. I know there are all sorts of obstacles that we can face with reading. Some of us have different preferred learning styles. Some of us are physically limited in our reading. Others of us have minds that are built in such a way that reading is actually a hard labor. From dyslexia to boredom and diminishing attention spans; we all have our own rap with reading.
Is there a difference in motivation? The Bible isn’t just another piece of Literature
The truth that is underneath all this, is that there are somethings that we will fight tooth and nail for; no matter how difficult. God has chosen to give us, yes, words in a book. Not just an oral tradition of sermons and discipleship gatherings, but of cold, hard ink on a page. Much of our faith is cemented into history by none other than Christians and their long legacy of appreciating the written word.
So what do we do with these pages that we’ve been given? Do we treat them as a Sherlock Holmes story or a play written in antiquated English? I think not; and if that’s how you feel about reading the Bible, read one more paragraph of this. If you’re not convinced after that, pack your bags and I’ll wish you luck. You can continue to say “I don’t read” in peace.
He Spoke and It’s in Your Hand
God made it a point to have that old NIV on your nightstand. He called many a person to die in the midst of those who sought to kill anyone who wanted to translate even a single word of our Bible. God inspired thousands of people to put a myriad of hours into something that you can read online or from an app. God did a good thing when He arranged that. If you wanted to read the Gospel of Mark right now, you can yell, “Okay Google”, and be on your way in seconds. God made sure that you had His Word. Are you going to treat it like some news article in the local High School’s periodical?
Reading isn’t Easy; and Shame on Those Who Make that Case
There’s been an unhelpful body of opinions in recent years that yell at us saying that reading is easy. That it should be easy. And if it isn’t easy for you, buy this course, watch this video, read this blog, work on this process and you will be pressing your nose into books in no time. While possible, it is unhelpful. So let me say that I’m sorry that you’ve been preached to more about your need to read better than your need to hear from God.
Read to the Best of Your Skill
Reading isn’t easy. Get this, there are even depths of reading that would put most people with Master’s degrees to shame. That’s an honest statement. Read this book and you’ll never know that reading could actually be a legitimate labor. It isn’t easy for anyone. There is always more that you can do with it. Reading the Bible should honestly be the hardest things anyone does. Whatever your skill or aptitude, press into it with all you’ve got. You can do it. You should do it. And you’ll be better for it! Let’s do it.
Font for Dyslexics – Browser Extension to Change Web fonts (Google Chrome Extension)
How to Read a Book – The hardest and most in-depth study of how to read that you’ll ever need
Audio Bible – For those on the go or needing something to help while they get better at reading
My Favorite Online Bible
Easy to Read Translation – NIrV