My relationship with the Bible has been one of the most exciting parts of my Christian journey. It involves me, an adult without much interest in reading or ancient history, getting caught up in the absolute behemoth that is the Bible story. For context I was not raised a Christian, the first Bible I ever owned was a New Testament and Psalms given to me when I started Secondary School. I didn’t read it.
Two years after that I became a Christian and continued to carry it around with me, as a sort of totem but again I never read it. I showed it to people, exclaiming that I was a Christian. But I never opened it and had no idea what it said. That’s the part that is really hard. I can say that for the majority of my Christian life I have not actively been reading the bible. All I knew was that I probably should and as that pressure of what I should be doing loomed over me, I got more and more uninterested by it. I saw it as a mountain that I could not possibly climb. I did however use it as a reference point when things went badly and whenever I wanted to read the talking donkey story. But I never read it, even as I grew in my faith and got given an actual full bible, both testaments, leather bound all mine. I still didn’t read it. Not really. I took it with me to school and always intended to read it, but opening the cover? That was always the hardest part.
God over the course of a few years, (and still to this day) changed my view of Him, which in turn changed my view of the bible. If my view of God is that of a cosmic wizard, I view the bible as wish fulfilment and will inevitably be disappointed, if my view of God is that of a councillor than all the bible is to me is a temporary mood heightener. These things are true yes, but they are not all that the bible is. If my view of God is that of the author, then the bible becomes a narrative. A narrative of Gods redemptive love for mankind, and the best part? It’s true. And I’m actively a part of it. The Bible being a narrative and a story blew my mind at the time and excited me for the first time about the Bible.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a scholar, a bible whizz or the best reader in the world, I hate to admit that there are often great periods of time where the bible doesn’t interest me and I don’t read it. It returns to be that great mountain I can scale. Even though I know that is not true because I can tell you from this position however that the times where I am reading the bible regularly (if not every day) are some of the most enlightening and joyous in the whole of my Christian walk. When I read the word of God, my heart is changed. When I read through the Gospels and read about Jesus my actions and my behaviour reflect him more. There’s nothing magic about reading a book, but I am changed through the word because it is from him.
The hardest part is starting, and I think everyone reads differently and responds to other ways of reading better. I personally struggle with devotions, as in reading a different unrelated verse every day. For me I enjoy reading the word as a narrative as a big interconnected story. Through trial and error, I have found that a chapter a day is a good rhythm for me personally, but I know not everyone is the same and may need to read more or less! Bible reading can be incredibly personal to us and there are many ways to read it. I often find YouTube videos or podcasts a great resource if I find myself in a slump where I am struggling to read. Reading the bible especially today is really tricky, I have challenges. Sometimes I skim over parts I don’t get. Sometimes I don’t know what to read. If you struggle to read the bible be aware, you’re not alone. It’s an ancient tone, written in a different way from most texts these days. It is a difficult read. When I come at it from that angle however I get excited. I often find books I’m interested in (the real swashbucklers, Jonah being a personal favourite) or find a story I am well aware of and read through it with a commentary to uncover new things I never knew and that gets me excited again.
As I look forward into the future I want one day for my daily routine to be cemented first thing in the word, I want one day for the Bible to not be intimidating but instead close and comforting. Something I not only know but can engage with without any fear. If it is a mountain it’s one that I enjoy climbing.