I accepted Christ as my Savior as a freshman in high school. I was amazed at this gracious and merciful God who had sent His Son to pay the penalty for my sins. I wanted to know more about Him! There was so much I needed to learn. But I didn’t have a Bible of my own.
So, my Grandma got me my first Bible that year–she gave me some of her precious S & H Green Stamps, and we went to the stamp store to pick out a Bible for me. You could get either white or black. So, I chose white, because it looked more like a girl’s Bible to me. I think it cost 1 ½ books of stamps. A year later, I went back and got the black one, because the first one had worn out! They don’t carry “top-of-the-line” Bibles at the stamp store. Then a year later, a man at church gave me a New Scofield Reference Bible. Leather-bound. I was in awe–it was more Bible than I knew what to do with!
That Bible took me through college and the first several years of marriage. And then I had children. (I believe that God gave me three children, because I thought I could handle two!) I would get up in the morning and pick up my Bible, and just stare at it, then maybe do the close-my-eyes-and-just-open-it-up to wherever it landed and try to read that…which isn’t always the best idea…especially when you end up in Leviticus or Ezekiel. I told my husband it was like I knew I needed to hear from God–but I didn’t know WHAT I needed to hear from Him. I felt stuck. I needed direction.
So, for Mother’s Day, he bought me a new Bible. The Women’s Devotional Bible. NIV. And I loved it. This version is laid out with small devotionals printed on the pages. One for every day Monday-Friday. Then one combined devotional for the weekend. Each entry recommends a daily portion of Scripture to read, and then features a written devotional based on that passage. The devotionals are about the size of a Daily Bread reading. Then there are further passages recommended to read at the bottom. I don’t ever remember getting to any of those. But it was like a life-line to me. Each morning, some thoughtful mature Christian woman–maybe Ruth Bell Graham, or Joni Earickson Tada would direct me to Scripture and then tell me how I could apply it in my life that day.
No, I didn’t get through the whole Bible that year. But I did read the Bible throughout that whole year. It gave me the support I needed for that time. Till I could get my feet under me, so to speak.
A few years later, I began getting up at 5 am. Voluntarily. Because nobody needs Mom at 5 am. Nobody cares where Mom is or what she’s doing–as long as she’s not getting you up, too! So, my house is quiet, and I have time to be alone with God. I am not by nature a morning person. But I prayed and asked God to give me a hunger and a love for His word, and He has. And I learned to love spending time with God more than I loved staying in bed and getting more sleep.
I made a practice of reading through the entire Bible each year. I would choose different versions each year, just to mix it up a little. Sometimes I would take a small book of the Bible, like Galatians or Philippians, and read it every day for a month. It’s amazing how much more you understand about a book when you do that. Especially the NT books. They are mostly written as letters. Can you imagine trying to get the gist of a letter if you only read a paragraph or two of it every few days?
One year, I used John MacArthur’s ESV Study Bible. My husband had done this for several years. I read all of the notes, along with the text. It occurred to me that I had probably been robbing myself of some good instruction by not doing so before. And I learned.
A couple of weeks in, when I started Genesis and read the account of creation, I read that on day one God said “Let there be light.” And there was. But God didn’t create the sun and moon till day four. So, for the first few days, there was day, there was light–without the sun. And in the book of Revelation, when the New Heavens and Earth are described, the Bible says that there is no need for the sun or moon, because the glory of God gives it light. Just as it was in the beginning…and I had never connected those dots before.
Don’t you love it when God shows you something new?!
He will. He wants to. His mercies are new every morning. And He calls to us to not be content with leftovers.