God is the same. He never changes. It says so in Scripture.
As we've been interviewing women on the Dayton Women in the Word Podcast, I've noticed a couple of trends in the topics that we've discussed. Yes, Jesus Christ is the same. Yes, His Word is living and abiding (1 Peter 1:23). But I think it is worth our while, and most healthy, to allow some trends in the way we interact with His Word to fade.
1. "Quiet Time"
Growing up, the term my parents used for our daily time with Christ was called "quiet time." In my mind, that looked like a cup of coffee at 6 AM with no one around but you and God. Don't get me wrong, I would love the gift of real, nil-decibel-level quiet. The problem enters when my life ceases to be quiet and I think I can no longer meet with the Lord. God gave you the life you have now. He wants to meet you where you are at, however noisy. Mom with screaming kids, that includes you! Single gal with hovering roommates, that is you! Quiet can be a heart posture as well as a noise level. It can happen at any time of the day, in any way. Remember, it is about who we are meeting with; not the place, time, or life decibels. Don't let the details of the perceived perfect "quiet time" keep you from Jesus.
"Finding greater pleasure in God will not result from pursuing more experiences of him,
but from knowing him better"
- Jen Wilkin
2. Anesthetizing Scripture
Raise your hand if you have ever given or received a baby shower gift wrapped in a bag with cutesie Noah's Ark graphics. Is this not the story where God, in his rightful judgment, wipes out the earth except for eight people?
It starts out when we are little. This past year, I served as a pre-school teacher in our church. I never realized my propensity to want to "dumb down" Scripture before being challenged to teach on the transfiguration my first day on the job. I heard myself saying, "Can you say transfiguration?" It was difficult to say the word, but it wasn't difficult to teach the real truth: God revealed himself fully to these men, and his holiness blew them away. As I walked through Revelation with Bible Study Fellowship last year, I was amazed to watch my gal pal's four-year-old daughter soak in and understand concepts about God's glorious judgment in a way I never did until I was an adult.
When we grow up, sometimes we do the same thing to ourselves. When we numb God's Word, we limit God. We don't allow the full impact of His Word on our hearts because we don't trust Him to lead us through that hard stuff. We need to lean in, because we need to understand God in his fullness. When we put a band-aid on Scripture, we think we covering up a boo-boo. In reality, we cover up pure beauty.
He didn't leave us alone to grasp these parts of Scripture. He gave us helpers: the Holy Spirit and one another. Let's ask for help, and examine what makes us so uncomfortable about God's real truth, together. Let's not put band-aids over things that God wants us and the world to see about Him. We will never understand unless we allow ourselves to look in the first place. So yes, open up Leviticus, ask for help, and ask for God to reveal himself: his entire, beautiful, holy self.
3. Shying away from the Old Testament
Once you realize that God's Word is not just about making you feel better, you can also realize that the Bible is actually a book about God. It's a book about God from beginning to end; Genesis to Revelation. We need the God of Judges just like we need God of 1,2,3 John. His character remains the same throughout, so we need not categorize him "pre" and "post" Jesus' appearance on earth. Dive in deep to every book, sisters. You can't understand the power of the veil being torn (Matthew 27:51) unless you understand why the veil was there in the first place (Exodus 26:31-35).*
4. Pristine Bibles
Because God's Word is living, active, and abiding, studying is best as an interactive process. God created you to interact with his Word, to do life with it, to be active with it, to abide with it. No longer do we leave our leather, gilded-edge book of Scripture up on the top of our living room bookshelf. We open it, journal in it, color it, sticker it, spill coffee on it. We paint the words on canvas and display them in our households. We open apps for our kids that let them touch the characters in the Bible and ask questions. We use apps where we can see what other Christ followers are studying simultaneous to our personal study. We listen to the Bible while we wash the dishes and walk our dogs and drive to work. We leave our hard copy out on the kitchen counter. We print out the Word and mark it up with notes, circles, brackets, highlights, and questions. We read it out loud to our kids. Yes, we are reverent about it's words and treat them as holy, but we don't have to treat the vehicle of the words as such. We know they are much safer implanted in our real hearts, in our real every day moments, than in a place far away from our realities. The Bible touches every aspect of our life.
He didn't leave us alone to grasp these parts of Scripture. He gave us helpers.
5. Going it alone.
One way to treat Scripture as being alive is to share it with others. God himself is a community of three: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We were created in community with Him and He pointed out that it wasn't right for man to be alone. At the very core of our being, we need each other. Studying the Bible is no different. We need each other to be able to do it in the first place. We need each other to understand it. We need each other to ask for help, to teach one another, to speak it, to listen to it. We need moms and dads to pass it to their kids. We need brothers and sisters to text it throughout the day. We need to talk about it over coffee and dinner and carpool and the subway. No longer is our Bible study a private, concealed interaction with God that starts and ends in fifteen minutes of our days. It infiltrates everything, including our relationships. That is why we gather as Dayton Women in the Word: to remind each other that we are never truly going this alone. Welcome to the sisterhood.
Jillian Vincent has been a lover of Jesus for twenty years. She's a wife, mother of two and a Dayton enthusiast. Jillian currently is a stay at home mama and spends nap times jotting on her blog and discipling other women. She would (almost) die for an avocado, a cup of coffee made by her husband, a novel that makes her cry, and a bouquet of sunflowers. Her favorite verse is Zephaniah 3:17: "The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing."