I sat in front of my Bible discouraged and frustrated. For too many days to count, I had felt like I might as well be reading a dishwasher manual. There was a time when I would read my Bible like my life depended on it, but today I couldn’t make myself care.
The Bible is the most fascinating piece of literature; the gripping story of base humans chosen by a holy God. Set in the eternal heavens, the Middle East and human hearts, God’s story is a perfectly just Creator betrayed by the people he made (Gen 3:1-6). Generations ran in rebellion and hid in shame, yet their Maker remains faithful to his promise to save them (Deut 7:9). Thousands of years after his promise, God enters into his own Creation as Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, to sacrifice himself and absorb God’s holy fury (Heb 2:9, 17; 10:14). Tortured and killed by the world, Jesus exchanges his righteousness for our sin (Matt 27: 26, 28-31; 28:6). He is resurrected by God, who is satisfied by his sacrifice and by his wounds we are healed (Luke 24, Isaiah 53:5, 11).
The end of the story awaits us.
One day Jesus will return in majesty to conquer sin once and for all and gather us to our eternal home (1 Thes 4:16-17). He will remake for us a new heaven and a new earth where we will worship God forever: there will be no pain, suffering or conflict (Rev 21, 22:3-5). He will make all things new (Rev 21:5).
How could I not be moved by this book? How could you?
What can we do when we’re unmoved by God’s love and the gospel’s power?
Examine and repent.
Ten years ago, news of my dad’s cancer crushed me. After rounds of chemo, remission and cancer returning, I had more questions than people could answer. I decided if God didn’t care about my dad, then I didn’t care about God. After a long season of rebellion I extended a baited invitation—If you're really God, show me who you are in your word. I began reading in Genesis, and by the time I got to Jonah I was weeping over my sin and worshiping the faithful God who pursues his people.
When we pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” we are inviting God into the untrusting places that can be difficult to admit out loud (Ps 139:23-24). Examining our hearts requires humility and brutal honesty about what we think and feel about God; we must ask ourselves the hard questions about why we feel disconnected from God’s word.
The more humbly honest we are with how we feel toward God, the more specifically we can repent when God shows us our unbelief.
Remain in the word.
The word of God is powerful. The word of God is creative. It is a hammer that crushes the hardness of our insubordination. It is medicine that heals the brokenhearted. And it is light that gives us guidance and hope on our way. This book conquers sin—if we will read it and meditate on it and memorize it and use it in our fight of faith. — John Piper
It can feel counterintuitive, unsympathetic and downright frustrating when our confession of coldness toward the Bible is met with encouragement to read it anyway. We want compassion, empathy and maybe even a “the struggle is real” meme. But it’s when we don’t care about God’s words that we desperately need them. When we feel weary and apathetic toward God, we must preach God’s living and active word to our hearts (Heb 4:12).
God’s word produces life in us (Prov 3:1-2). His word increases our faith (Rom 10:17). We fight the very sin that would deceive us from trusting God, with his truths (Ps 119:11). We must pray for God to open our eyes to the wonder of his law (Ps 119:18). And then, keep reading.
Make a plan.
If you’re like me, sometimes knowing that the Bible is essential doesn’t necessarily translate into motivation and discipline. Here are a few practical suggestions to grow dependence on God’s word.
+ Pray for help. Ask God to help you read his word and trust in every sufficient syllable he gave you for your life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3).
+ Pick a book. It can feel overwhelming and frustrating to get up when that alarm goes off and not know where to start reading. Start by choosing a book. Sometimes it can be helpful to pick a book that addresses a struggle you experience or an aspect of God’s character that’s hard to believe. For example: If you’re facing suffering, a good place to start would be 1 Peter. If you are struggling to treasure the sovereignty of God or the power of the gospel, open to Romans. All scripture is God-breathed and profitable for our hearts, so you can’t go wrong (2 Tim 3:16).
+ Find a friend. In a community of believers, we can easily begin to feel like we are the only ones who are struggling to care about God’s word. This can make us feel even further from God. If you’re struggling to like God’s word, tell a friend. Give them the opportunity to remind you of the gospel and encourage you. For the past five years, I have studied various books of the Bible with friends. We pick a book, set a time and meet weekly for accountability and deep discussion of God’s word. Not because we are awesome, but because we are the exact opposite of awesome. Without one another we drift away from the care of his word (Eccl 4:12).
+ Make the time. Carving out time to be in the word takes effort and discipline. As you examine your heart, be honest with your relationship with social media, TV, hobbies, sleep, and even work. If your day is too full to spend time with God, cut out that TV show, delete your Insta account or set the alarm 30 minutes earlier. Make the time for God’s word.
We may not always feel our desperation for dependence on God and his word. But whether we feel it or not, it’s always true. God, help us to believe that all else will fade, but your word will endure forever (Is 40:8).