Once upon a time, yours truly was a very well-meaning kindergartener who decided she would make her mother lunch. And what finer lunch can a daughter make for her mother than graham crackers with sprinkles? Five terrible minutes later, my mother was teaching me how to vacuum rainbow sprinkles off the living room carpet.
That’s kind of how my life as a Christian started out.
I grew up in a Christian home in which my parents encouraged me to have daily devotions. After becoming a Christian at the age of fourteen, I decided to adopt the practice, but, similarly to the incident with the sprinkles, I knew the what but had no clue about the how, or the why, for that matter.
I decided I would start by reading the Bible, cover to cover. Every night, I would read a chapter or two of the word before I would let myself collapse into my bed. I didn’t stop to think about what I read; I didn’t even stop to pray beforehand or afterwards, but I had read scripture, so I was pretty sure I’d met my holiness quota for the day. After two years passed, during which I had never gone to sleep without reading scripture first, I was pretty sure I was the Best Christian Ever.
If you had asked me why I was doing what I was doing, I’m not sure what I would have said. Maybe I would have recited some catchphrase about wanting to grow in Christ, but if I were being honest, the answer would be that I didn’t really know at all. For me, scripture reading was some kind of bippity-boppity-boo that was necessary for ‘growing in Christ.’
It wasn’t until I was eighteen that two huge things happened to make the pieces of the puzzle slide into place:
Number one: I was blessed with a friend who was vulnerable and honest about their struggles with sin. I saw what I was doing grow in my knowledge, love, and obedience of God: keeping my eyelids open long enough to skim a chapter of scripture and going to church once a week to zone out during the service. I saw what they were doing: starting every day with humble, fervent prayer for strength to battle sin, not only contemplating, but memorizing scripture, and pursuing discipleship. I had my first AHA-moment and realized that: my devotions were 100% devoid of meaning, but they didn’t have to be.
Number two: God graciously tuned my easily-distracted heart into a sermon in which Pastor Daniel explained that:
1. I must know God to love him.
2. I must love God to obey him.
3. I must obey God to experience his blessing.
Suddenly, I understood. We read God’s word so we can learn who God is. Without knowing God, we can neither love nor obey him! This newfound information was one of the biggest game-changers in my life since I got saved in the first place! The true purpose of the Bible wasn’t to keep records of seemingly arbitrary laws or to recount the military conquests of Israel; the purpose of the Bible is to teach us who God is and thus enable us to love and obey Him! My meaningless devotional life was turned upside down.
I would love to say that I now open my Bible every morning, excited to grow in my knowledge of my creator. To be honest, there are still mornings when my eyes are on my Bible, but my brain is a hundred miles away. But God graciously gives me strength to focus on His word as He teaches me who He is. And as He teaches me about His perfect nature, I can only get more and more excited to go meet Him someday!