Reading my Bible in the Lazy River of Grace

The other day I attended a service and the speaker made a remark that caught my attention.  He said that most ministers have never read the Bible all the way through.  I thought to myself, “Hmmm…I have never actually read the Bible all the way through from start to finish.”  To be honest, the thought of doing this use to seem super stressful and impossibly boring.

As a child, I was taught to read my Bible every day like a good little Christian girl.  When I dedicated my life to God at 13-years-old I read the Bible most nights before bed.  Even when my friends would sleep over in high school I would read it to them before we hit the sack.

Then I went to Bible School and became an “expert” on the Bible (or so I thought).  I first studied the Old and New Testament at the “non-accredited” Bible school level, if you know what I mean.  I then studied the Old and New Testament at an accredited undergraduate level.

From there, I studied the New Testament and Church History at a Master’s level.  I literally studied the Bible for over seven years almost non-stop.  I was taught to think critically of God’s Word.  I was taught to think for myself. I was taught to have my own opinion.

I was taught to challenge every teaching every preacher (including my parents) have ever taught me.  Essentially I was taught how to think systematically when it came to the Bible.  It was my main textbook for seven years and most of my other textbooks were focused on the Bible in some way.

So, as a child and teenager I saw the Bible as a black and white rule book – simple instructions one must follow to be a good Christian.  As a young adult, I saw the Bible as a textbook or a systematic theology book if you will.

I obviously had a great passion for God’s Word as I dedicated my entire life to it, but by the time I completed my Master’s Degree I had almost completely stopped reading my Bible as a time of personal devotion to God.  To be quite honest, I grew tired of it and its pages were no longer inspiring my soul.

I had spent years reading it as either a book of rules that made me feel bad about myself or a book to study that was confusing and sometimes boring.  It was no longer alive for me, if that makes sense.  The interesting thing is that I knew the Bible so well that I could easily quote it, write about it, and minister from it without ever actually opening it.

But what I now realize is that I was eating yesterday’s bread when I could have been eating today’s bread.  I was living off a diet of stale ideas when I could have been living on a diet of fresh ideas.  I was so fat with knowledge from so many years of consuming the Bible, but that is all it was – knowledge; not life changing and not life giving.

I knew that something had to give if I was ever going to be inspired by the Bible again.  I had to let go of my old ways of thinking.  I had to stop seeing the Bible as a black and white set of rules to strive to follow perfectly.  I had to stop looking at the Bible as a theological textbook that I had to study and know so that I could be a real theologian someday.

God started to speak to my heart in a way I could relate to and get excited about.  He started showing me that Bible is actually the greatest story of redemption ever told.  It is my opinion that the Bible was never meant to be looked at as a rule book or a textbook, but as the life-giving story of how God would redeem our broken and fallen world through His son, Jesus Christ.

When I started viewing the Bible through the lenses of redemption, I no longer felt bad about myself or bored out of my mind.  I started seeing how loving, gracious, and merciful our God is and how much He really gets us – his creation.

For the first time in years I am enjoying reading my Bible again and have begun the very long process of reading it from start to finish.  I no longer worry about reading one chapter a day, having “quiet time,” going to my “secret place,” or any of those weird things us Christians like to say.

I read the Bible when I feel like reading it and I read however much I feel like reading.  I can hear all the church folks in my head telling me that I must discipline myself to practice my spirituality, but I am not in that place right now.  Rather, I am learning to ride the easy-going, dare I say “lazy river” of grace because it is in this place that I am compelled to dust off the old Bible and read the greatest story ever told.

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