Bible Reading–Moving From Obligation and Defeat to Love

It’s mysterious. Powerful. Intimate. It holds the keys to life in all its fullness. It provides guidance in the most obscure and confusing situations, helps make the most difficult decisions clear, and for many … is a source of frustration, guilt, and regret.

If you identify with the latter, then keep reading. I think you’ll find what Wholly Loved’s Christa Cottam has to say encouraging and helpful.

Bible Reading–Moving From Obligation and Defeat to Love and Joy by Christa Cottam

Reading the Bible intimidated me. I don’t mean reading the whole thing. I mean reading any of it. Whatever Bible routine I tried to establish, Frustrated woman with books flyingwhether it was randomly picking verses or attempting to read from the beginning, I failed. The more I tried, the worse it got, until frustration pushed me to give up altogether.

I never told anyone that I didn’t read my Bible. I had far too much pride to admit that. Instead, I soothed myself with a slew of impressive excuses:

It’s boring.

It’s not that important.

I don’t have time.

It doesn’t do anything for me.

But the truth was, I didn’t understand Scripture.

I was surrounded by Christians who not only seemed to understand God’s Word, but also committed it to memory. And not just for recitation sake, but because it actually meant something to them!

So, what was wrong with me? I felt foolish and immature. And I was pretty sure I was screwing up this being-a-Christian thing. Worse yet, I was certain I was letting God down.

For years, my primary exposure to Scripture was secondhand—whatever I heard at church or read in books, blogs, or articles. Everything Biblechanged when I heard a sermon preached on 2 Timothy 3:16, which says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.[1]” The pastor explained that reading the Bible is the primary way we get to know God, and that He uses it to communicate with us.

It was a punch in the gut. I was completely convicted.

I recognized that if I was really serious about my relationship with God, reading the Bible wasn’t optional. I had to do it. But how? I clearly didn’t have a great track record.

At that point in my life, I had an infant and was exhausted. So, I decided I’d start small. I subscribed to receive a Bible-verse-of-the-day email. I have to be honest, my heart wasn’t in it at the beginning. My daily reading felt more like something to cross off my “to do” list than anything that would ever become understandable or meaningful. Over time though, a spark ignited in my heart, and I felt inspired to read the full chapter the verse-of-the-day came from.

I believe that what I did next was the key. I prayed specifically that God would help me create space in my day to read Scripture, bless that time, help me understand tough passages, and give me an insatiable thirst for His Word. Over time, God not only answered my prayers, but He also transformed my heart and mind. The more I read, the more I craved. I began attending a Bible study and was devouring daily devotions. I couldn’t get enough.

In the past, what drove me to read the Bible was religious duty. I approached it only to say I’d completed it, like an unmotivated student. But the deeper I got into God’s Word, the hungrier I became to know my Heavenly Father. The book that I’d long viewed as an impersonal work filled with mandates on how to live became an intensely personal story about love, not “law.” God’s heart—for you, for me, for all of us—is alive on every page, inviting us into a deeper relationship with Him.

Now I can’t imagine my life without the Bible. Its words, once fleeting in my mind, are now words of life imbedded in my heart, ready to remind me of God’s promises, protection, precepts, provision, and peace.

“I take joy in doing Your will, my God, for Your instructions are written on my heart” (Psalm 40:8, NLT.[1])

Let’s talk about this! Do you struggle with reading the Bible? What methods have you found helpful to keep you reading it regularly? What changes have you seen in your life or your faith as a result of developing a consistent reading time? Share your thoughts in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

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Christa's headshotSpeaker and worship leader Christa Cottam is an energetic and spunky woman who has a fire in her belly to tell others about Jesus, and how He rescued her from a past of shame, guilt and unforgiveness. Christa has used her gifts in music, theater, and leadership to make a kingdom impact, serving with MOPS, working on church staff as a music director, volunteering as a worship leader, and leading a table at women’s Bible study. She is excited to use her voice in a new way, encouraging and inspiring women to go deeper in their relationship with God.

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If you’re looking for help digging into Scripture, check out How to Read Your Bible for All It’s Worth by Gordon D. Fee. You might also enjoy my friends’ website, Discover One Thing, where they offer daily reading plans, an explanation on the SOAP method of Bible reading, and their thoughts on various passages.

Speaking of Bible reading, sign up for my free quarterly newsletter and receive a free, 36-lesson study from 1 Timothy. You can sign up HERE.

[1] Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1986, 1988 by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

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