We've all been there. The alarm goes off in the morning, the coffee can't be made fast enough, and with our bodies feeling like we were run over by a Mack truck the day before, we rub the sleep out of our eyes, we grasp onto our Bibles, and we beg God for mercy to see while seeing, to hear and truly hear, and to behold wonderful things from His Law by the power of the Spirit. We crack open our Bibles, find where we last left off in our Bible reading from yesterday, and pour over each word with as much diligence and intentionality as one can muster at a time in the day when the sun is still barely waking up.
And then it happens. As we read, we struggle to understand, we read the same sentence 5 times in a row hoping the next reading will make it all come alive. We finish our time in the Word and think, "What am I supposed to do with that?" We struggle to find implications to our life, how we might apply the things we read. How can we apply when we don't understand what we just read? And then the thought hits us, a thought that I think Satan loves, "Wouldn't sleep have been a better use of my time?"
We tend to think that we will understand every sentence and get an emotional high every time we read, setting in motion the perfect day similar to a scene from a Disney movie where birds help make our beds and mice help pick out our clothes for the day. But that just isn't the way it always works (not just the Disney part but also the Bible-reading part). So, what are we to do and to think in those moments of frustration? I think Geoffrey Thomas, a Welsh pastor who wrote a little book titled, "Reading the Bible," has great encouragement for us. I go back to this quote often, time and time again for encouragement and I pray that you, too, will be encouraged to continue to press into the Scriptures with everything you've got, trusting that God's Word will never return to Him void, but always accomplishes what He is desiring (Is. 55:11).
"Do not expect to master the Bible in a day, or a month, or a year. Rather expect often to be puzzled by its contents. It is not all equally clear. Great men of God often feel like absolute novices when they read the Word. The apostle Peter said that there were some things hard to understand in the epistles of Paul (2 Peter 3:16). I am glad he wrote those words because I have felt that often. So do not expect always to get an emotional charge or a feeling of quiet peace when you read the Bible. By the grace of God you may expect that to be a frequent experience, but often you will get no emotional response at all. Let the Word break over your heart and mind again and again as the years go by, and imperceptibly there will come great changes in your attitude and outlook and conduct. You will probably be the last to recognize these. Often you will feel very, very small, because increasingly the God of the Bible will become to you wonderfully great. So go on reading it until you can read no longer, and then you will not need the Bible anymore because when your eyes close for the last time in death, you will open them to the Word of God in the flesh, that same Jesus of the Bible whom you have known for so long, standing before you to take you forever to His eternal home!" Geoffrey Thomas, from
Reading the Bible