From Textbook to Life-Giving… Again

Before I started studying at Youthworks, I had this idea that going to Bible college would fill me with endless energy to read the Bible and endless zeal for the task at hand. It didn’t. It was even more difficult to discipline myself to spend time in the Word. It only got harder when Moore College happened. It isn’t the fault of the colleges. For me, it was simply that I found it hard to divorce the idea of the Bible as a text book – something to analyse academically – and as a life-giving text in which God spoke to me by His Spirit.

The undoing of the Bible as text book has been a task of this year. It began with the assumption that having been educated in the Scriptures I didn’t need any sort of guidance. Surely, I should be able to open it up and begin and then I’d get into a flow of understanding and feeling and thinking and praying…. but it didn’t work that way. I found myself writing exegeticals in my head, rather than finding exhortation and exaltation within it.

I tried a devotional book but instead of feeling enriched by it, I felt frustrated by it. I didn’t love the way they wrote and never quite connected with the text through the extra words. But I did enjoy the pretty pages…

File_000Enter: She Reads Truth.

I stumbled across a website called She Reads Truth. It’s all about women reading the Bible. There’s also a He Reads Truth and Kids Read Truth, but more about that later. James and I chatted about whether or not it was worth the expense of buying the book and having it shipped over here from the US, which with exchange rates and shippin

 

g cost was worth pondering together. While I ummed and ahhed about the whole thing and if it was worth the risk, James declared that if it was going to help me spend quality time with God, it was worth it.

We ordered a copy of a Song of Songs study for women, and a set of Romans studies with a book each for men, women and kids. The difference in men and women’s is largely aesthetic, but the kids book is something totally different.

The Song of Songs study is the one I opened first and have spent the last few weeks walking through. It’s well laid out with space for reflection during the reading and after, and it has the entire text printed along with related texts for each day (and the back of the book tells me someone’s sole job is theological oversight over related texts – amazing!). It has cards that tear out for Scripture memorisation, too. I’ve found myself drawn in by the words all over again because of a different layout and I’ve found the pretty pages to draw my brain into the beauty rather than the academic.

For little old me, this is has been a tool that has helped me shift the way I read the Bible since college ended. It’s the first time in a while that I’ve been able to be enriched by spending time in the Scriptures and haven’t found myself tempted more towards the academic. That isn’t to say I let go of all that I’ve learned and look for proof texts to enhance my feels, but my approach to the Scriptures has been personal rather than pragmatic – and that’s made all the difference. As has making a pot of tea and grabbing a treat and treating my time with my God as an appointment that I wouldn’t dare miss out on. It’s special.

If you’re struggling with your Bible reading, this is well worth checking out. It helps me focus and find space, and creating those moments with beautiful pages to help me see the already beautiful words of God is invaluable. Check them out here. I’m hoping to get my hands on an autoship subscription soon in hopes of saving money long-term… but my heart still wonders if investing in something to simply help me see the beauty of the Scriptures anew is worth it. Of course it is, but how much does the heart like to hold onto money rather than the things of God?

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