Have you ever gone through a “dry spell” when reading your Bible? Being completely honest, some days I don’t get anything out of what I read- that is what I mean by a “dry spell.” I typically experience these spells when I am trying to read through the Old Testament. I’m sure that many would agree that the Old Testament can be difficult to relate to, some parts more difficult than others.
I’ve come to notice that most days when I read my Bible, I read the text and immediately try to figure out how it relates to me and how I need to apply it. And if I don’t find that personal connection, I feel like I didn’t really get anything out of the Word- aka a “dry spell.” It wasn’t until just recently that I realized the problem with the way I approached my Bible study and how this approach was also a reflection of how I lived out my relationship with God.
Although application is a crucial part of reading the Bible, I think I sometimes forget that what I’m reading is the Word of GOD- not the Word of Taylor. The Bible is a book about our Creator, Savior, and Sustainer, not a book that just tells me how to live. In theory, most would agree to this, but at least for me, the majority of my time in the Word I spend searching for the personal application. I want to know how everything relates to me and my life. It sounds pretty conceited and self-centered when put into words, but that is exactly how I have approached reading the Bible. And if I don’t find a personal connection, I feel like I got nothing out of my time in the Word.
I used to think this was something that was normal, that dry spells were typical and seasonal, but I’m starting to see that isn’t (or shouldn’t be) the case.
Here is an example: Say you are given a picture of a flower. All you look for in the picture is the color pink (since that is your favorite color), but the flower is yellow. Dissatisfied with it’s lack of pink, you dismiss the picture altogether. But, just because the flower isn’t pink, does that make it any less a flower? Does that diminish its beauty to nothing and take away the complexity of its being since it doesn’t contain the elements you are looking for? Of course not! It is still a flower, full of life and fully able to give life. I know this is a cheesy analogue, but it sort of depicts how I read my Bible most days. I spend all my time looking for how the word pertains to my life that I dismiss the big idea: God.
In other words, the reason for my dry spells is not due to what I’m reading, but what I’m reading for.
It is so much easier to grasp a list of do’s and don’t’s than to try to wrap my mind around the One who set the do’s and don’t’s. You would think I would see the folly of my approach since God has showed me over and over how I can’t even live up to the list of do’s and don’t’s He put in the Bible. God knew this ultimately, and that is why he sent us His Son. Jesus is the only one that lived the perfect life that God called us to live, and it is only through Him that I am able to live the life God called me to.
So why do I spend so much of my time trying to live up to God’s standards on my own when I know I never will?
Now, I don’t have all the answers (obviously, since I’m only 17), but I think I have turned my relationship with God into an attempt to live up to his rules because it is easier to comprehend. It is so much easier to grasp what God wants from me than to actually grasp Him and the freedom He gives me. I mean, he’s God (my mother might add here, “For crying out loud!”). But that is exactly what He wants! He wants me to spend my time getting to know Him. He wants a relationship with me like a Father/daughter- even more than just a daughter, but an heir! It’s not like a boss/employee relationship where I take orders from God and the better I am the more I gain his good graces. No matter how hard I try, without God I will NEVER live up to the life he has called me to live.
And He knows that! That is precisely why He sent us His Spirit. We who are in Christ have the Spirit of God living in us and it is through the Holy Spirit that we learn to live like Christ. I need to stop reading the Scripture only tuned to the passages that pertain directly to me, but retune my brain to learn what I can about God. God is in all Scripture. The God I serve today is the same God who Abraham served and is the same God that will come again.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the lines of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of his who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation- but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs- heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”