When I went to Junior High for the first time, I made a decision. I was going to carry my Bible with me every day. The school had a “no backpacks” rule, so you had to carry your binder and books out in the open, and girls were allowed a small purse. Everything you had with you was on display. And as a 12 year old, I chose that thing to be my Bible.
It was a pretty cool Bible, if I say so myself. The case was metal with a soda can imprinted on the top. It made for a great conversation piece. People were genuinely interested in what I was carrying with me every day.
It was with me every second of the day, and it got pretty banged up. I actually got a second because the first fell apart.
Not only was carrying my Bible a great way to talk to Jesus about people, but because it was the only thing I took with me that wasn’t school related, every time I had down time, I could dig into the word. I underlined. I highlighted. I took notes in the margins. I spent more time studying the Bible in junior high than any other time in my life. And, I didn’t care what people thought about it.
When bags were allowed in High School, I still carried my Bible, but I didn’t carry it out for everyone to see. It was tucked away in my messenger bag, and I still pulled it out occasionally, but less and less as time progressed. As more materials were required for school, I changed to just carrying around a small pocket Bible in a small compartment in my bag.
I have never in my 26 years of life been ashamed to be a Christian, but when I made the choice to hide the Word away, compared to when I carried it out in the open every day, I chose to remove some of my transparency. I also chose to not make my Bible a priority in my life.
Fast forward a little bit, and the Bible app is introduced. Now, I didn’t need to bring a separate Bible with me! There was one on my phone. I used it and took advantage of all it offered, not really realizing just how devastating this new habit would be.
A few months ago, I looked around my bedroom and counted seven physical Bibles, one hymnal, and two binders filled with contemporary worship anthems. Just in my bedroom. I have three or four more Bibles and several binders packed away in storage. My husband has several Bibles and binders of music as well.
And, how often was I cracking ANY of these things open?
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
Sure, I practiced my worship sets every week. I didn’t look at music that wasn’t on the list for the week, though. As for the Bibles? Opening up the Bible was not a priority. I have the Bible app on my phone, so who needs to carry around a physical Bible?
And then I went to Passion 2018, and I was convicted of these thoughts.
Spending hour upon hour studying the word was so refreshing to me, and during that time I realized that having the Bible on my phone only was severely holding me back. There is something about digging into the word – highlighting it, underlining it, circling things and making notes in the margins – that provides an element of study and retention that just looking at an app cannot provide.
Don’t get me wrong – having the Bible app is such a blessing to so many people around the world, and it is an effective tool when used properly. But, for me, the app was an excuse to not make scripture a priority in my life. I opened it up to look at the scripture of the day, maybe read a devotional plan and then that’s one check mark for my day, just like brushing my teeth or doing laundry.
We should never approach reading scripture as another thing in life that just needs to get done. We should be so hungry to learn more about God that we spend every moment we can devouring the Word.
Right now, I’m re-evalutating how I spend my time in the Word. Instead of just opening up an app for 1 minute a day, I’m making an effort to take my physical Bible, my highlighters, notebook, pen, page flags and post-its and read one chapter a day. I have read the Bible all the way through before, but I need to slow it down this time.
Last month, I took one chapter a day of Proverbs. I picked one verse from each chapter that resonated with me the most and wrote it down. I mapped the scripture. I highlighted with a new system that I’m pretty proud of (anyone else an office supplies nerd like me? It’s a great thing my husband works for Staples! Ha!). When I have a question, I write it down and research it. I have stopped letting myself be ok with just skimming a verse or two to be able to say I read my Bible for the day.
I’m not saying that you will always see me with a physical Bible. I have a toddler, and she likes to draw on everything. My hands are often full. It wouldn’t be practical for me to run with a Bible in my hand. Some days, life is busy. Times like these, I am so thankful that I have an app on my phone with countless versions of scripture. I still read my Bible from my phone daily, because it is a great way to immerse yourself in the Word when you get extra seconds in your day. But as for the daily commitment to learning and growing closer to God, I make it a priority to open a real Bible. Usually, I find that I don’t want to stop reading and studying. I can’t get enough.
I encourage you, if you feel like you aren’t getting anything out of your Bible app, to pull out your hard copy of your Bible and open up a book like Proverbs, Psalms, or just start at the beginning, and REALLY digest just one chapter a day for 30 days. Make it a habit to do more than just be ok with a verse or two pinged like a text message that you read and put aside.