I used to be skeptical of the importance of reading the Bible.
It struck me as strange that a non-religious activity could so impact our ability to worship—especially when I considered how many millions around the world simply don’t have access to the Bible, and aren’t literate.
“Really?” I thought. “Is it so important to read the Bible? After all, doesn’t God care primarily about us connecting with him spiritually?”
Consequently, that skepticism trickled down into my daily lifestyle. A few years back, I noticed the skepticism was at the center of my resistance toward a daily regimen of spiritual renewal, and had thereby become destructive toward my spiritual, emotional, and physical wellbeing.
I decided to read the Bible for thirty minutes every day to understand what was so great about it. I quickly realized I had been an idiot, and that consistent immersion in the Bible is one of the most well-rewarded habits of the Christian life. I’d even go so far as saying that daily Scripture reading is necessary to spiritual wellbeing.
Not that it’s necessary in all cases to be considered by God his faithful servant, but it’s at least necessary for good health.
In the wake of reading God’s words and beautiful poetry came a desire for more sublime words to describe God in my own work. But words continuously fall short of describing God, and the more I’ve tried to write about God, the more frustrated I’ve become, until I just realized I needed to stop trying.
If God wants me to write about him, he’ll put the words in my mouth or on my fingertips. Otherwise, I need to just be content to be with him.
Consequently. . . I started to realize that there’s a lot of real mercy in God being beyond our ability to understand. When I finally became content to simply be with him, I actually came to understand him better. And so far as I can remain in that contentment, I’ve found that even terrible days filled with terrible circumstances seem incapable of sapping a quiet sense of peace and joy.
There’s really nothing like this state of Godly contentment, and I’d gladly give up all the excitement in the world to be in a forever twilight filled with it. In fact, it seems to me to be heaven itself. And, of course, when we read the Bible, we see that pretty much hits it on the head.
There’s nothing so ultimate an experience as being reconciled to God and experiencing his peace. When we meet him in quiet, contented worship, we’re satisfied by our mounting desire for him.
How interesting that desire for God is more pleasurable than the fulfillment of any other desire. But I’ve lived for a few years, experienced quite a lot, and can say it’s not an overstatement.
Not only is desire for God more pleasurable an experience, its wells are infinite while all other pleasures wilt over time. You never need to stop feeling desire for God. In fact, the more you worship him, spend your days reading his word, and praying, the more your pleasure in him grows.
Desires always grow the more we fixate on whatever we desire, while pleasures tend to be the fulfillment of desire rather than the desire itself, and wane with each repeat visit.
That’s what makes our experience of God unique. Because when we experience him, our pleasure in Him is caused by our desire for him, and there are no limits to desire.
And our pleasure in Him is further purified by the fact that we can’t control it. It’s instead just a gift from Him. After all, no one can make themselves desire something more intensely. Desire is simply an automatic response to what something is.
Of course, there’s seasons of peaks and valleys, where our ability to feel his presence wax and wane, and even seasons where he draws away from us. But, I think, if he draws away from us, it is only to urge us to pursue him more intensely. The Psalms are filled with poetry written while in this state—when David pursued God in the midst of him seeming far away.
But without daily Bible reading, I wouldn’t have known any of this was possible. I wouldn’t have known how to pray. How to worship God in a way that pleases him. How to live a life that honors him—what he considers sin, and what he considers goodness.
In fact, I doubt I’d ever have had the self-awareness to realize these experiences were taking place as I prayed or worshiped, had he not already written (so to speak) about it as the normal experience of moral beings who desire their Creator.
So, there you go. I used to be skeptical of Bible reading. Now I’m skeptical of whether anyone can be spiritually healthy without reading the Bible daily.
Because I know my health isn’t good when I don’t imbibe him daily. And, while I’m sure there are plenty people out there more morally strong than me, I think we’re all pretty much on a level playing field.