When I began reading The Bible, I knew parts of it would fly in the face of my personal ideology.
But since I’d exhausted every strategy for manifesting a happy and successful life, and was crying on my bed every day, I didn’t have much to lose. So, I opened my mind, committed to reading it and doing as it says. I promised myself if, after a careful reading, I just couldn’t believe it was the inspired Word of God, I wouldn’t.
Less than a week after that decision, I read this:
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His own eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely and strengthen and settle you. IPeter 5:10 AMP
Wait…God will make me what I ought to be? Like, it’s not my job? Whoa. If that’s not good news, what is?
That scripture was such a precise response to my problem, I kept reading but I had to do it on my own terms. So, initially, I shut out all the commentary, at church, on tv and from well-meaning Christians; then Jesus and I began a vigorous wrestling match, which two years later, I have completely and decidedly lost. “Whoever loses his life on my account, will find it,” Jesus said.
So that’s the why, here’s the how – at least as it worked for me:
1. I bought a new Bible – The Amplified version, but the NIV, NLT and Message translations are all good for comprehension.
2. I found 30 minutes in my day without interruptions – invariably before Sam got up. Ugh. I bit the bullet and set my alarm.
3. I opened the Gospel of John. Starting there, rather than the beginning with Genesis, kept me awake and engaged. Later John, Peter, Luke and Paul piqued my curiosity about David, Isaiah and Moses. But for the first four months, I bounced around the New Testament looking for things that surprised me, challenged me or just made me happy, and I wrote them in my journal.
4. I did it daily. This is where the rubber meets the road, and I talk a lot about the value of showing up in Going to the Sea.
For years, even my churchy ones, the gospel skipped across my life, like a flat stone on water. Somehow, it would always make it to the other side and never sink in. That’s because I didn’t really think I needed Jesus. Then I found out I did.
Sometimes, the key to availing ourselves of the grace and mercy of God is having the humility to admit we need it.