I have a confession to make. I love the Bible. I know, not much of a confession, and give the fact of what I do for a living, you’re probably not that surprised. I read nearly every day and rarely miss my time with the Word (usually on travel days, when I have to leave early and drive long). That being said, there was a time not too many years ago when my time in the Word was stagnate and my love for the Word was flagging. By the way, I was a pastor then too. This is what I want to help you with today.
You see, the issue was I was bivocational. This means I was pastoring a church while also working a full time job. The result of this busyness was I was still in the Word, but almost exclusively for the purpose of preparing to preach. This is, in my opinion, not good. What was happening was all my reading was for others. “What was I going to teach THEM about God’s Word?” It’s certainly not a bad thing to preach and teach, but what about ME? I needed to be in the Word of God for my own growth, and development, not to mention my relationship with God.
Something had to give. It was nearing the end of the year, and so I downloaded a one year Bible reading plan. I’d done that before but it had been years. It was the time of refreshment I needed. I still do it most years (sometimes I will do long studies of various aspects of Scripture instead), and I highly recommend it, especially if your time in the Word is in a slump. I am doing it this year and over the last few days I had a sort of realization. I read the Bible in two different ways and I want to give this as encouragement as well.
In my morning devotions, I follow the one year plan pretty closely, but I also read for distance. What this means is really simple. I read to cover “ground.” I read large chunks at a time, sometimes whole books. One might argue that I am missing things doing it that way. This may be true, but when I read for distance, the purpose is to get the big picture. I want to follow the arc of the story. Reading large “chunks” helps me get the whole story.
Then on other times I will read for details. In these times, I read small passages and meditate on them. This is sort of like study, but it is more devotional, because remember I am not reading to preach here. I am reading for me and the purpose is for me to connect with God and to see the small things that I might overlook when I am reading for the big picture.
Which of these is the best way to read? Yes! They both are, it depends what I need at the moment, and often one will lead to the other. I will see something in reading for distance that stops me in my tracks. Other times I will see a detail that needs context, so I start reading “big picture.” The most important thing in all of this is that you connect with God and His Word daily. You see there is a danger, especially for creatives, that we will start to rely on our talents, rather than our relationship with God. This will make for weak, misguided, ministry. To quote a viral video…
“Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Spend time in the Word every day.