|Photo credit: my friend, Dani Larson|
Well, for one, I stop and start. I would study Isaiah for a few weeks or a few months and then take a break to connect with God a different way -- going for a walks, writing, reading a good book, staring off into space. Then, after a couple months, I would feel ready to dive back in, so I did, and loved it, but inevitably got bored or my mind got too full, so I again took a break.
I also get stuck. There were so many passages in Isaiah that made my jaw drop and my heart melt under the brilliance of the truth. When I reached these passages, I was often stuck on them for days or even weeks. I could not move on. I would ruminate and think and meditate on them basking in the truth at all angles. The Word is rich and flavorful and sustains my soul. Sometimes, a bite enters my mouth and I savor it. Sometimes for weeks!
I used to feel guilty about this tendency to consume the Bible so slowly. My mind would think things like, "I've been a Christian who can read for over two decades, shouldn't I have read the whole Bible several times by now?" or I would compare myself to my husband who has been inductively studying the Bible for years. Almost without a break.
I remember one day while hiking with my husband through the dry, yellow Claremont Wilderness Trail, I explained these burdens to him. I felt pressured by the American Christian culture of having a daily "quiet time" where you read a different passage of the Bible every day. For me, that felt like an obligation. I usually didn't enjoy it.
And, thank God for husbands, he told me that a slacker-Christian wife was not what he saw. He said he had the tendency to consume gobs of Scripture without allowing it to change him. He was often in awe of the way I soaked in passages for a long time, and he saw them change me from the inside out. He said he saw my heart and mind as a stone tablet and truth was getting chiseled onto it. It was a slow, very slow process, but once the truth was written, it was near permanent.
Since that day, I have embraced my slowness. I open the Bible as I sense the Spirit leading. I read as I sense the Spirit leading. I meditate as I sense the Spirit leading. All of this is very slow. I doubt I will ever do a "Read Through the Bible in One Year" plan. And, I no longer feel guilt. I feel free to be the way I am, and God graciously uses the way I read Scripture to continually form me and change me.
Has the traditional "quiet time" form of connecting with God ever felt like a burden to you? What creative/unusual ways do you hear from, learn from, or connect with God? I'd love to hear in the comments.