It was the third grade. A moment in time that is forever stamped in my memory. I stared blankly at the most humiliating piece of paper that an aspiring lover of books could ever receive.
In big bold letters I read – READING LEVEL 12.
I had been held back.
I became a Christian at the tender age of seven, and with it came a passion to live for God and share it with others. However, my Bible, THE most important book, found a home on top of my dresser, only to be picked up on Sunday morning. Its primary function was an accessory to my outfit.
My faith was being held back.
A Reactive Faith
Over the years, the light of my faith grew dim. I didn’t love my life. I let it happen. It’s just another picture of how we tend to live a reactive life. I wrote about this more in my last post, you can read that here.
When living a reactive faith, at times you can feel weary and overwhelmed, and it’s common to find security in hiding the truth because you’re supposed to be this “strong Christian woman.”
The Holy Spirit was working in my heart, depositing a longing for a deeper faith and he used resources and experiences to draw me to the heart of God. In my times of floundering, occasionally, I would read daily devotionals because they were quick and simple. I’d find hope—but it wouldn’t last long before I would feel the same way again. Held back.
Why was it so hard for me to read the Bible—THE most important book?
I didn’t really believe it was worth my time.
Until something changed my mind to inspire me to make time for the most important book I will ever need.
The Most Important Book You’ll Ever Need
Did you catch that? I said need…not read. For so many years I operated on the belief that I should make time to read my bible, but what I never realized is that I NEEDED the bible. Every. Day.
What happened to change my heart and my mind?
God began to grip my heart, saying, “Sonya, the most important book that you’ll ever need is my book.”
Maybe you’ve heard those words too. Oh how those words can hurt, but they are gentle and soft. It is an invitation with an outstretched hand letting you know you’re not going to be alone in your journey. He offers renewal unlike anything you’ve experienced. Living renewal—lasting renewal—found only in is Word.
Just Take a Step
Making time to read your bible—it is hard to do—and how do you do it when life is just so busy? Can you actually set aside time to read the Bible and actually understand what you’re reading?
I’d like to say that I slipped easily into the habit of reading scripture daily, but it wasn’t that way at all. It was still hard. I just kept taking one step at a time—if I could do it once, I could do it again. Finally, I was able to get into a rhythm. I think it was like two years. I know that’s not what you wanted to read, but it was during those two years, I began to recognize more and more that when I was in God’s Word daily–I was better. I was stronger with each step.
I began to understand that the Psalms were a gift to me—words when I didn’t have them myself.
Finding Light in The Psalms and Proverbs
What made it finally stick for me? Some of the best advice I was ever given, by my dear friend Amy Werner. She shared with me a plan to read through the Psalms and Proverbs in an entire month. It seemed like a hard plan, but I needed to be pushed. Slowly, as I pressed forward and tried her methods, I started to see a light—a consistency in gaining insight and knowledge. The Psalms were starting to be written on my heart. I began to understand that the Psalms were a gift to me—words when I didn’t have them myself. Today I know that I can always turn to the Psalms and find my psalm—that one psalm that God speaks to my heart for me at just the right time and just the right circumstances.
Worship and Story
Secondly, the psalms are actually worship songs to direct our hearts to God. They tell someone’s personal story—and the same is true of songs today. I would imagine a modern day version of Psalm 42 might sound like Keith Green’s, Oh Lord You’re Beautiful.
Keith Green Live – Oh Lord You’re Beautiful —Live
Transcript — Keith Green, Oh Lord You’re Beautiful
“On Monday night this week, about midnight, I wrote a letter to the Lord. I didn’t know where to mail it so I put it in my bible. And I asked him, Lord you gotta do something about my heart, you know a lot of time’s gone by since I met you, and its startin’ to harden up, you know its just kind of natural. I want to have baby’s skin, Lord. I want to have skin like a baby on my heart. It’s starting to get old and wrinkled and calloused. It’s not ‘cause of anything I’m doing, it’s because of a lot of things I’m not doing—and I stayed up until about two in the morning writing this song.” —Keith Green
Closer to the Heart of God and His Heart for Us
After listening to Keith’s voice share the story behind the song, followed by him singing—I couldn’t hold back the tears. Why does it touch my heart so much? I often feel the same way—I relate to His story. Scripture is the same way—it’s God’s gift of words, song, and story to speak to our hearts. The Psalms draw us closer to the heart of God and His heart for us.
The Psalms renew my heart and remind me that He hears my prayers and knows my situation.
A Treasure Worth the Time
What I gained from reading the Psalms daily years ago is a treasure far beyond the worth of my time. My faith has grown, many of the psalms I can easily recall from memory word for word, I created a habit that has stuck. I still read devotionals from time to time, and there is a time for this, but it’s His Word that has made me stronger. It has strengthened my resolve—helped me to sort out my mind and put me on a path of being proactive in my faith, not reactive. Even today after I read through the psalms, I may not always know the how in a situation, but I know that God is with me and He is for me. The Psalms renew my heart and remind me that He hears my prayers and knows my situation.
Do you feel like your faith is being held back?
I’d love to help you take a step, by inviting you to try a new thing. If you take just one step, you can be sure that another foot is following right behind that first one. You can do this! If you’ve done it before—you can do it again.
Start with reading the Psalms and Proverbs. Get your copy of 10 Different Ways to Read Your Bible Every Day to get you started!