Nearly five years ago, I began to read the Bible daily. Cover to cover, Genesis to Revelation, over and over again. To date, I’m estimating I’ve read it close to ten times. It’s been the one discipline I’ve been faithful to, the one that has stood the test of this time period. I’ve set many other goals that I’ve failed at, but for whatever reason, God has kept me on this course. As I navigate my way through His Word, each journey presents new insight, refreshed knowledge, and unending wisdom that I find to guide me as I navigate the everyday journey of time living outside of the fixed communion with Him while sitting with the Bible open in my lap. Since we aren’t able to walk through our days with His Word literally spread about before us, having Scripture embedded in our minds is the only sure fire method to give us discernment as new challenges come our way. Having a mind saturated with Bible verses, stories, parables, history, prophecy, and every jot and tittle in between in no way guarantees a better, or easier, life; however, in every way, it guarantees our perspective on all of life.
To be sure, prioritizing the reading of the Bible is not done out of fear of what is to come. It is solely done in hopes that my fear is founded in Him, regardless of what may come. I’d already been engaged in this discipline for three years when my seven year old had a stroke, resulting in severe paralysis and what could’ve been a challenge that killed spiritual growth on the spot. Never once did I question God and what He was up to, but this was only because He had kept the pages of His Word at the forefront of my mind. I’d read repeatedly the stories and experiences of His people in Scripture and, by His grace, the arrogant plea of “why me?!” couldn’t be spoken due to the fear of Him that had been nurtured. Nor did the narcissistic grumbling bubble to the surface, with complaints of the trials He had set before us, only for the sake of being seeped and soaked in learning of His sovereignty through perpetual Bible reading.
I remember coming back home after spending five weeks at the hospital, having an underlying fear that I’d lose sight of Him, letting my faith lessen as the struggles waged on. Looking back, that was a most holy fear to dread. It could’ve been a fear focused on what the future would bring during the recovery period, but the reigning fear, for me, was focused on standing firm in Him and not allowing my faith in who He is to be shaken by circumstantial surroundings. I say this was a holy fear because remaining grounded in the God of the Bible prepares us for anything and everything.
Two years have passed now and I’m still sitting with my Bible every morning. Enduring the suffering of a child can be debilitating, but enduring suffering all around us in a multitude of ways also plagues us. Social ills, societal wars, marital discord, and interrelational squabbles are only a few challenges we face on a daily basis. At the heart of all of these lies the location of where we let our thoughts lead us in dealing with issues. How do we discern which way is the right way? Where do we turn when it feels like life is one giant downward spiral? Who do we run to when despair threatens to creep in? The simple answer, for the Christian, is: God. The more challenging answer is: His Word.
We may feel God all around us, see His work in nature, experience His love through others, or find assurance in being indwelt by His Spirit; but to be sure we’re seeing Him clearly, exuding His love, feeling the assurance of His Spirit and not the deceitful pride of our own hearts, we must look for Him in the pages He has revealed for us in the Bible. Otherwise, we can surely be led astray, trusting a misplaced faith that fears, not Him, but what may happen through Him. Perhaps one of the most dangerous practices we believe in is not intimately knowing the God we serve as He chooses to teach us. Footloose and fancy free in developing our own theology, depending on our own logic, and living out a life that we’ve developed in our minds as one that is pleasing to Him.
Even though I intrinsically search my mind’s hard drive that has the words of the Bible littered throughout with close to every decision I’m confronted with, I will still fail because of my fallen flesh. I’ll fail to recall His Words when discerning, fail to obey His commands because of my pride, and fail to please Him with some of my thoughts and actions. But one aspect of today that isn’t much different than the day I began reading the Bible religiously, is that my fear of God desperately needs to remain focused on who He says He is, not who I think He is. And that can only be found, again and again, by immersing our spirits in Scripture.