I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you. – Psalm 119:11
So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your foreheads as reminders. – Deuteronomy 11:18
When I reflect on my walk with Jesus, there is often a point of sadness over how much time I have wasted not reading my Bible. I’m so thankful God loves to redeem the time! But I think it’s good to consider why I didn’t read it if I want to purpose to do so in the future.
My reasons for falling out of the habit were the typical ones. I was busy. Time got away from me – every day for weeks, sometimes months. I was tired from a long day at work. Watching TV sounded more relaxing. I meant to do it – after I did everything else on my list that day. And then I fell asleep. Bottom line: it wasn’t a top priority. Growing in the Lord wasn’t a top priority, as much as it hurts to admit it.
There would usually be a spiritual growth book on my bedside table, and I would be more apt to pick that up than to read God’s Word. Books are almost always encouraging, challenging, entertaining, and fulfilling to read, just like many things we fill our time with other than seeking the Lord. We choose something good over something much better.
“One who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.” – Proverbs 27:7
I was experiencing the truth of this verse – that we will hunger more and more for what we feed on. The less we fill ourselves with spiritual things, the less we will desire them, because we are already full, satiated by other things. We then eventually begin hungering for and finding sweet even those things that are bitter and not of God. I’ve been there too many times.
After looking at all of my excuses, it seemed it could really be boiled down to my own self-centeredness. I was not reading the Bible for Jesus but for what I could get from Him. If I didn’t feel encouraged after reading it, I felt discouraged – almost as though I had wasted my time. If I went in search of an answer and came up dry once again, I wanted to give up trying. If I didn’t feel struck with a new revelation, I chose next time to read a different book. If I felt I wasn’t getting anything for me, I stopped coming. Something more ‘fun’ was always calling my name.
I don’t want it to be like that again. I want to seek God for Him and Him alone. He is worthy. And I know that if I’m not reading His Word, my life won’t really be about Him.
There will be dry spells, times when He seems to be hiding. In fact, I recently felt I was in one. I was seeking only out of obedience, because I didn’t feel His presence. It was during that time that I read something encouraging by Graham Cooke. He wrote,
“Hiddenness is a time of building. God desires to bring you through seasons of hiddenness because He wants you to learn the discipline of walking by the Spirit. Developing an ongoing walk by the power of the Spirit is a discipline. Practicing faith is a discipline. Hiddenness is God’s way of establishing these disciplines in your life. Once established, they prevent the enemy from invading your life and touching you, because regardless of your emotions, you know how to find the presence of God; you have a constant assurance of His presence and commitment to you.”
I can already say I’ve seen God working this out in my life. And I am more and more convinced that those times I read and don’t feel anything are not wasted times! The dry spells are the times where the roots go deep, because it isn’t about feelings. If we want to grow from the inside out, we need these times. His Word will not return void.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:9-11
Let’s not read His Word for us; let’s read it for Him. Let Him do with it what He will. If we want to be more like Him, we have to read His Word.
If you haven’t been reading for awhile, don’t let the enemy condemn you. God is on your side. And by His grace, you can climb out of the slump forever.