Sometimes I don’t read my Bible because I’m too tired. Sometimes I don’t read my Bible because I want to “clear my mind”, which usually just turns into filling my mind with Pinterest and Instagram. Sometimes I don’t read it because I don’t want correction or because, “I don’t have time”…
Whatever my excuse, ultimately, I don’t read my Bible because I don’t want to. Because it seems like a burden, because I find myself believing that it will drain me opposed to filling me up.
Sometimes I forget that God’s words are written to give us life.
Maybe this is bad parenting, but I found it totally necessary one night to give myself a “time out”. I set the timer for 10 minutes, told my kids they were fully capable of solving their own problems, and sat down to eat dinner. I picked up my Bible, reluctantly.
It was one of those days. I had been in the Word that afternoon and reading about thanksgiving, to which I responded by attempting to focus on all I had to be grateful for. But I didn’t feel any better.
So as I opened my Bible at dinner, I prayed for change of heart and started reading Psalms, again.
Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter.
I will give you thanks, for you have answered me; you have become my salvation. Psalm 118:19-21
I thought of Jesus’ words, years later, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep” (John 10:7).
As I re-read the Psalm, I began adding my own emphasis:
Open for me the gates of righteousness. – I can’t open the gate on my own
I will enter and give thanks to the Lord – I will thank Him for he is the one who has let me in.
This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter. His name is Jesus.
I will give you thanks, for you have answered me; you have become my salvation. I will praise you Lord, for you made a way for me, you are my savior.
It is always about the cross. His Word gives us life, because He gives us life. He made a way for us to enter into righteousness, to enter into communion with himself.
But the way cost Him.
Hebrews 13 reminds us that “Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood” (Hebrews 13:12).
He is the gate for us, because he was cast outside the gate for us. He endured our punishment. He stood in our place. And he credits us his holiness.
I’m a far cry from perfect, but the more that I see Jesus show up, the more that I study his Word, the more that I’m reminded of who He is, the more I want. And so picking up my Bible seems like less and less of a “burden”, because, ultimately, it is not a burden. It is freedom, and it is life.
“If we really believed that the Bible was true, we would hang on every word,” I said to my husband one afternoon. The words just popped out of my mouth, and I immediately found myself so challenged by them. But this is exactly why – because if we really believe that the Bible is true and that there is a God who loves us so much that he would step off his throne and into his creation to be cast outside the gate as a sin offering for his sinful people, to be the gate that allows us back to right standing with himself, then we would want to know that God. And we would want to hear everything he has for us.
Stepping in: What holds you back? What do you believe about God and his Word that gets in the way of knowing him more, in the way of reading His Word?
Journeying further: Spend time praising God for who he is and what he’s done. Ask him how you can be an encouragement to the people around you.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-24
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.” – Psalm 51:10-12
“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” – Psalm 119:18
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8
“For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” – Romans 5:10
“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess his name.” – Hebrews 13:15