Do you sometimes find reading the Bible a challenge? You are not alone! Here's our latest blog post from Sarah Rock-Evans, Ordinand at St George & St Paul, Tiverton.
Psalm 119: 105 'Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path' (NIV)
It’s time for me to confess that I find reading the Bible quite hard sometimes. Do you?
I didn’t hear many Bible stories as I was growing up so when I came to faith in my early twenties I recognized the really well known stories like Creation, Noah’s Ark and the Birth of Jesus but I was unfamiliar with a lot of the others. I really wanted to understand them more, so over the years I have tried all sorts of reading plans and devotionals to try and help me. I have made progress but I still feel I could do better. If that’s your experience too read on, as I have some encouragement for you…
According to The Guinness Book of World Records, since 1815 the Bible has sold approximately 2.5 billion copies and has been translated into more than 2,200 languages or dialects. The Bible has influenced language, literature and art around the World and is regarded by Christians as a 'living text' through which the Holy Spirit can speak to readers and hearers today. It is absolutely foundational to our faith – and yet many people struggle to engage with it because so many of the books were written to a very different time and culture than our own.
So what can we do to enable us to dig deeper into the Bible? I think there are two major keys to this: perseverance and humility. The danger is that we get so discouraged we stop reading the Bible. We need to persevere and keep making our reading of it a priority, even if we are just taking baby steps. And humility can help us to find a way in by accepting a bit of help along the way.
My understanding of the Bible grew significantly as I started reading Bible stories to my children when they were very young. I am not suggesting you need to go all the way back to board book versions(!) but a good children’s Bible can be really helpful in providing an outline of the main stories. I’m now studying theology at degree level and I recently bought a copy of The Lion Handbook to the Bible – it’s a fantastic resource available for less than £5 second hand online which provides a short commentary on each chapter of the Bible alongside maps, diagrams and background explanation. It makes some of the more obscure books much more accessible and puts them into context, which adds a lot to my understanding! Could this, or a similar resource, help you too?
Let’s not forget, as we persevere, that the Holy Spirit is the One who brings the Bible to life and speaks its truth into our current circumstances. As you open your Bible pray “Come Holy Spirit, open my eyes to see your truth today, in Jesus’ name,” trusting and expecting that He will speak to you. If you want to share ideas or experiences of deepening your understanding of the Bible do get in touch, I’d love to hear from you!