My family moved a lot when I was growing up, but one thing never changed. No matter where we lived, my Bible would always end up under my bed. Sometimes I would remember to bring it along on Sundays and sometimes I wouldn’t. In any case, I had a Bible and I was proud of that remarkable accomplishment.
Knowing that the Bible was the Word of God did not motivate me to read it. In my mind, I didn’t need to read it to learn about God. Relying on Sunday sermons, Sunday school teachings and Christians who seemed to know what they were doing, was good enough.
Surprisingly, this mindset didn’t leave me when I got serious about my faith. I just made a few adjustments that reflected my active pursuit of God. I now relied on a greater number of sermons, my personal experiences, Christian music and movies, conferences, devotionals, Bible studies, home groups and yes, Christians who seemed to know what they were doing.
But what did I really know about God? I had always been taught, always been told, always been led by others. The Bible was definitely part of my life now, but I always read it in a context.
Whether I was following along at church, doing a devotional in my own time or taking a class, the few bible verses that I read were always supported by someone else’s thoughts. I was told how to interpret what I read, what to meditate on, what to look forward to and what to believe in. I may have had faith, but it was not mine.
The thought of reading the Bible by myself was intimidating. It would have been too difficult. Too awkward. Why bother? Why not seek guidance from those who had been walking with God for much longer than I had? I was eager to grow and reading the Bible by myself would have slowed me down.
I had failed to realize that guidance was meant to supplement my faith… not define it.
God lovingly showed me that I wasn’t interested in knowing His story. Whenever I opened my Bible, I was concerned with what I could get out of it… how his Word could get me through the day… How I could apply His principles so that He would act in my life. Reading the Bible by myself would have meant trusting the Holy Spirit to guide me through it. Unfortunately, I saw this leap of faith as a waste of time. I was content with walking by assumption instead of faith.
Assumption sees the Bible as a how-to guide for godly living. Faith sees it as the revelation of God’s kingdom. Assumption asks “what would Jesus do?”. Faith discerns and acts accordingly. Assumption copies actions. Faith produces actions. Assumption strives for fruits. Faith naturally bears fruits. They both change lives… but only faith changes hearts.
Faith. It explained why Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego chose to be thrown into the fiery furnace without knowing whether God would actually act. Why Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast upon learning that they were being attacked by the Ammonites and the Moabites. Why the widow of Zarephath gave her last to prophet Elijah even though she could have prioritized herself … or her son! They couldn’t have known what Jesus would have done, yet they saw something that made them act the way they did. Their faith was not blind. Should mine be?
I wasn’t “too young in the faith” or “too inexperienced” to read God’s Word on my own. I was rejecting the Holy Spirit as my teacher. I needed to start spending alone time with Him to discover His Story.
Actual alone time. No devotional. No Bible reading plan. No context. Just my Father and I.