The goal of this post in encouragement, plain and simple. I believe many women want to study Scripture, but they are overwhelmed with life. Then they read of their favorite teacher’s study schedule, or hear a teacher speak and talk about her hours spent in study, and it is discouraging and disheartening.
I mean, who has time for that? I am a wife, whose husband works crazy hours; this means I am the primary hands-on parent for the majority of the week. I am a homeschooling mother, so many of my daylight hours are spent in the company of an inquisitive seven year old boy. Let me also mention that God has only blessed us with one child, so said child wants a lot of attention. Plus he has a sleeping disorder, so I am not guaranteed “off hours,” ever.
I am sure many of you can relate. Whether it’s children demanding your time and attention, husbands who need you, aging parents requiring help, housework that really does need doing, or jobs accomplished inside or outside of the home, time is a limited commodity.
The modern church is frequently no help with this, either. Instead of offering grace when it comes to studying the Word, time requirements (aka works) are piled upon their members:
“Just start your day, first thing, before getting out of bed, with fifteen minutes of reading the Word!”
“Join this study! It’s just thirty minutes of reading a day!”
“Read through the Bible with us in just an hour a day!”
So here’s how a real wife, mom, daughter…woman…studies the Bible in 2017:
I am not big on “daily devotionals.” I think they are fluff, and usually are full of emotionalism, false teachings, and not focused on Christ, the gospel, or even the Word. Paul David Tripp’s New Morning Mercies is one of the few exceptions I have found. Less than a page per day, with a suggested Scripture reading for each entry, these “devotionals” are focused every day on the truth that I am a sinner in need of a Savior. It takes maybe five minutes to read the entire entry, including the Scripture.
I keep this book next to my bed (on the floor), and I look up the Scripture on my phone (using the ESV this year). If I skip a day, I read it the next day. I don’t always read it first thing in the morning; I often read it before bed, or while my kid doing his math worksheet. This is a simple way to get the Word and Truth into my life.
Daily Bible Reading
Here is where I would love to tell you that I have a strict daily reading plan, and I am a devoted “first thing in the morning cup of tea & Scripture” girl.
But I am not.
Some days I don’t read my Bible. My kid wakes me up multiples times during the night (or my dog does…anyone want a dog? 😉 ). I have to be up and out of the house early, and I need to shower and make breakfast, and I hit snooze too many times. Some days the lure of social media wins.
I realize those are all excuses, but this is me being real, and I wanted to be encouraging.
What I have done every day so far in 2017 is read one Proverb (and by that, I mean one chapter of Proverbs). Sometimes I have read it first thing in the morning! Yay! Sometimes it’s right before bed, or while I’m sitting in my son’s room waiting for him to sleep, or while I’m waiting somewhere, or just when I have a random few moments throughout the day. I am also using my phone for this, using the ESV.
This Proverb a day is part of the Legacy Reading Plan from Ligonier Ministries. What I am loving about this plan is a Proverb a day, three Psalms a week, and assigned books per month. I have also read Genesis and Exodus in January (okay, I finished Exodus on February 1), and now I will read Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy in February. I have also read Psalms 1-18.
I do not feel like a failure on the days I don’t read more than one Proverb, and I love coloring in the squares on my little tracking chart I made when I do read chapters toward my monthly goal. Again, I am not tied to a specific time of day, because that is near impossible for me. When I set my alarm to get up and read, inevitably my kid or dog wakes me up four times in the night and I hit snooze. I’d rather read when I’m awake and focused, than when my alarm goes off and I’m tired and angry at being bothered from my troubled sleep.
While I do believe, passionately, in reading through the Bible every year, I also believe in studying it more deeply. I have disciplined myself to just read parts of it when I read it every day. I’m reading just to read – I’m not out to do word studies, cross-references, outlines, or anything of the sort. I’m just reading to know the Word of God. I try not to get hung up on things; that’s why I do schedule time to study more in depth.
I am studying more in depth in two ways this year: a Precept-Upon-Precept Bible study, and a one-on-one Bible study with an older lady from our church.
In Precept-Upon-Precept, we are finishing Galatians this month. Then we are starting Genesis, and we plan to go through the Pentateuch (I don’t know how long that will take). In this study, which can take about an hour per lesson, I thoroughly study a chapter a week (on average). This does involve the word studies, cross-references, different translations, commentaries, and reading the chapter over and over and over again. I also meet with a group of ladies one morning each week to go over the homework together, which is encouraging and edifying.
(I also do not do this homework daily, although the study is designed that way. Sometimes I do 2-3 lessons at a time; some weeks I do one lesson a day. Life is crazy.)
I realize not everyone loves Kay Arthur, and I tend to skip any “what do you think” or “what do you feel” questions. God led me to an incredible Bible study leader who loves Jesus and His Word more than any woman I have ever met, and she handles those questions strictly through Truth as well.
The other study I am doing involves a book called One to One Bible Reading: a simple guide for every Christian by David Helm. I was paired with an older lady from my church, who lives in my neighborhood, who is also a homeschooling mom of boys (praise God!), and we have chosen to study Romans 5-8 via this method. The book divided it up for us, and then we chose one of the methods from the book to use (the COMA method) to study together. Our goal was eight weeks, but we haven’t managed that yet. The holidays, weather, and sickness (aka real life) have intervened a few times. But in addition to the study, the relationship building with a Titus 2 woman has been such a blessing in my life I cannot even explain.
So this is my encouragement to you:
Read your Bible. When you can. Study deeper, when you can. I try to read every day. I don’t always hit my goal. I aim to study deeper two – three days a week. Some weeks I do, some weeks I’m cramming my Romans study in at 6:30am before my friend arrives at 8:45am (and begging my husband and son to please for the love of all that is good to just leave me alone for twenty minutes). Some weeks I show up for my group Bible study and all I have done is read the chapter twice the night before.
Life is real.
In my ideal life, I have an office somewhere which I can cram full of books, study theology, and write all day long. In my real life, I have a computer on an old desk in the dining/homeschool room that connects all the other rooms in the house.
In my ideal life, I get eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, get up at 6:00 am, study my Bible for an hour, exercise, and eat a healthy breakfast. In my real life, I’m lucky to get six hours of broken sleep, read a Proverb, David Tripp’s book, and a few chapters of the Old Testament on my phone, and get out the door to our homeschool co-op with a shower.
In my ideal life, God loves me for spending time reading His Word, praising Him, worshiping Him, learning more about Him and loving Him more and more every day.
What do you know?
In my real life, that’s exactly what God does and who God is. Because every time I open my Bible to read His Word, praise Him, worship Him, learn more about Him, love Him…He’s there. Already. Without a stopwatch or a checklist. Because He already loves me. Because I am His child.