I have a confession. I don’t read the Bible everyday. And I don’t even feel bad about it. Not anymore.
Like many of us, I grew up believing that a “good” Christian has a quiet time every morning consisting of prayer and Bible reading. If I was feeling distant from God, the first question people asked was “Have you been doing your daily devotional?” I shamefully confessed that I hadn’t and promised myself to try harder.
The problem was that as much as I tried, I could never do it every single day. Some days I woke up late. Other days I just didn’t feel like doing it. Some days I just forgot. All of these scenarios just made me feel guilty about being a terrible Christian.
I believed reading the Bible was a mark of spiritual maturity.
One year I actually pulled off reading the entire Bible. Not because I was able to read it consistently every day. It was because every month or so I went on a marathon reading session to make up for all the days I missed. I was pretty proud of myself for reading it cover to cover.
The problem was that I knew more about the Bible but I didn’t really know God.
The reality of this hit me like a ton of bricks a few years ago when my life fell apart. I was on the brink of divorce, I moved to a new city and I was living with my parents. I found myself depressed and disconnected from God.
I relied on what I knew best: spiritual discipline. I determined to wake up and pray and read the Bible everyday. And I was doing it consistently this time. But unfortunately, it didn’t work. On the other hand, it just made me angry.
I was doing all the right things now and my situation seemed to be worsening. My marriage was all but over, I was sleeping in my little sister’s bedroom and I was about to lose my job.
Reading the Bible wasn’t helping any of this.
Then one day everything changed. I was sitting on the floor reading my Bible faithfully when the tears started streaming down my face. None of the verses helped. I couldn’t take it anymore and I let God have it. I cried out, “I need you to be more real than the words on this page!“
I threw my Bible down and cried uncontrollably. I curled up in the fetal position and let the weight of it all come down on me. It was the first time I honestly let go and stopped trying to do the right thing.
I let myself feel all of the pain. And that’s when He met me.
For the first time I felt the tangible presence of God in a real way. As I lay curled up in a ball on the floor I felt Him surround me. With my eyes swollen shut and chest heaving, I felt His arms wrap around me. He didn’t say anything. I just felt Him mourn with me. He wasn’t preaching to me, He was grieving my loss.
For the first time I felt the Word come alive. Not the dusty book with crumpled pages and red letters. The Man came alive. His words became truth. It was tangible and not intellectual. And that changed everything.
I no longer read the Bible for Him. I read it for me.
I stopped reading to gain His approval. I stopped reading it to mark off a checklist. I stopped reading it to prove I’m a good Christian.
I read it because I want to know more about the One that met me that day when words were not enough.