In the last 11 years of motherhood, my personal time in the Word of God has been sadly dominated by seasons of inconsistency and distraction rather than those of faithfulness and diligence.
Why don't I spend more/better time in the Word?
It's not because I don't have time (though I really have so little), because I don't understand it (though I really do lack understanding), because I cannot focus enough with all that vies for my attention (though I often find myself unable to finish the simplest tasks before being called to another), nor due to a lack of discipline (though, clearly, I have much to grow in this department.) These are all the reasons I've given over the years. I look for ways to grow in each of these areas-- through books, Bible studies, accountability, charts, reading plans-- all of which are truly good tools and worthy of consideration. And yet, something is always missing. I know it is meant to be more than words on a page...I have tasted that it is life-transforming, and nothing of this bite-sized nibbling of sustenance will do. I know there is more, and still I can be so indifferent. Coming to the Living Word of God somehow becomes burdensome and obligatory.
“Any obedience that isn’t motivated by his great love is nothing more than penance.” (Elyse Fitzpatrick, Because He Loves Me)
No tool was ever meant to replace true motivation. Books, studies, friends, and even self-discipline...can merely assist, not sustain as true motivation. The heart beats for what it adores, willing to go to any lengths for its true love. Tools will better the context for which love grows, but it cannot replace true love, itself.
And so it is when we come to the Word of God.
I stand at a distance, marveling, proclaiming the beauty of Christ and his worthiness. I admire God's holiness and behold the glory revealed in his Word. He is worthy, and I am in awe. That's how it should be. But, admiration is not quite the same thing as being overcome with love. I can admire a man's character, but until that man's character turns toward love for me, he is not mine and I am not in love. Until I remember God's incomparable, astounding, pride-shattering love for me, I am simply admiring, not partaking.
An admirer is yearning at a distance; a daughter of the King is feasting at the table.
When I don't read my Bible, it is not really because I don't have time, energy, or will. It is not even because I don't love him enough.
I don't read my Bible because I've forgotten how much he loves me.
He loved me in my unworthiness, in my I-know-what-is-best-for-my-life mode of operation, in my self-boasting and self-loathing. He loved me so much he bore it all on the cross, and suffered the torment of separation and punishment in Hell on my behalf. He redeemed me from the slave-market of sin...the enslavement I foolishly forget and flirt with again and again.
And yet, he boldly and securely says,
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine." (Isaiah 43:1b)
I try and make myself more loveable, more lovely...more worthy of his love. And fail in despair. I read my Bible, hoping to obey and live in the light of the gospel...but, when I focus on what I can do and not what he has done, I grow weary and obedience is but obligation. "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,not a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Grace is a gift. A gift. God's word is a love letter. A gift. Prayer is communion. A gift.
When I don't read my Bible, it is because I have taken a love letter penned in his precious blood, and have treated it like a textbook required for graduation.
Oh how he loves me. Oh how he loves you.
And, were we to rejoice and swoon over his unbridled love for us...were we to take him at his word...were we to cast aside all notions of our own worthiness...
...we might, then, feast and never tire of the love letter, the gift.
Sister, perhaps you, too, are lacking desire and finding your time in the Word weak and unfulfilling. Perhaps you, too, struggle to have discipline in ways you know would help you grow. Can I humbly encourage you to set aside the pursuit of just the right conditions, the next season of life, the perfect environment, the disciplined lifestyle, and the spiritual maturity you keep waiting to arrive at...and simply revisit the astounding truth of who you are in Christ. Let yourself be wooed by his unrelenting love, a love that pursues us again and again, a love that reveals itself in the pages of his Word.
We just might find ourselves holding his Word close, holding it dear, treasuring it-- treasuring Him-- as we never have before.