-By Patricia Paddey
When Faith Today asked me to submit something for this space related to “How to Read the Bible Well,” I said yes. And then I considered backing out.
The more I thought about what to write, the more I reckoned maybe I’d already said all I had to say on the subject. Part of that feeling is no doubt rooted in insecurity.
I’m no expert on reading the Bible well. I’ve read it almost my entire life, but somehow, I tell myself, if I’d been reading it well all those years, my life would be in better shape by now. I’d be some sort of super Christian today. My faith would be stronger, more resilient. My service would be more energetic and fruitful. My sins and failures would be fewer and farther between.
Instead, I doubt. And despite of a lifetime of trying to walk with God, I know I must continue to disappoint Him. And I struggle when life delivers disappointments to me.
In the months since working on this story, the words of the Bible scholars I interviewed for it have haunted me. Ian Provain’s thought that, “we ought to aspire to a growing appreciation, a deepening desire, a greater love,” for Scripture, and Gus Konkel’s advice to “just read it,” in particular have stayed with me.
And so I’ve made some adjustments to my Bible reading routines and practices. I’m finding myself waking earlier these days to spend time in Scripture. I’m reading shorter passages when I sit down hoping to hear from God. I’m ruminating on those passages, journaling about the words and verses that jump out at me, and praying through the thoughts that follow. As I do so, I find my eagerness for Scripture – and for hearing from God through it – growing.
In his book Hearing God, Dallas Willard writes that, “just as openness to and hunger for God leads naturally to the Bible, if it is available, so the eager use of the Bible leads naturally and tangibly to the mind of God and the person of Christ.” I take that as one more proof of God’s faithfulness, mercy and grace.
And I take it as one more reason to continue to strive to read my Bible well.
Patricia Paddey of Mississauga, Ont., is a Faith Today senior writer.