Is reading the Bible a "have-to" or a "want-to" in your life? Nicole Unice opens our eyes to the "more" it can offer.
A Life-Giving Practice
By Nicole Unice
Growing up, church consisted of the following smattering of memories: counting the beams in the sanctuary ceiling during particularly boring sermons; earning candy by memorizing verses, and the interminable wait of me and my impatient and hungry siblings while my parents "fellowshipped" for what felt like 14 years after each service. At face value, my memories of church - and specifically the Bible - didn't feel important or relevant to my life as a child, nor as an adult. I believe that time was meaningful in God's economy, but maybe in some unexpected ways.
Fast-forward thirty years, and I'm more surprised than anyone that I've devoted my life to helping people discover the power and relevancy of God's Word. Religious platitudes and churches that cater to satisfying our insatiable customer service appetite will never satisfy our soul's need for truth, power, comfort and direction. But God's Word, found in the Bible, can. Recent studies show that although more than 95% of Americans own a Bible, fewer than 30% read it even weekly. There's been a disconnect between our church pews and our individual experience of God in his Word. And this is a tragedy, because of all the Bible offers to be for our lives:
The Bible offers direction. We live in a world that screams with competing priorities - be this, buy this, believe this! The Bible is a timeless anchor that gives us the ability to understand God, understand ourselves, and discover the relationship he desires to have with each one of us.
The Bible offers life interpretation. As human beings, we experience life in and through stories. No one can recite the manual to their garbage disposal, but almost everyone can recall a story they've seen or read that's been meaningful in their life. We are wired to experience life in story, and the Bible is the greatest story ever told. Locating our own struggles, dreams and experiences within the framework of the story of the Bible gives us a vivid framework to interpret our lives.
The Bible offers connection. The Bible is our Creator's chosen instrument for speaking to his people in our day. 2 Timothy 3:16 says all scripture is God-breathed. The whole thing has meaning and relevance to our life. The verse goes on to give this powerful list of things the Word does in our life (teaching, correction, training) - and it gives us the connection we need in verse 17 - that the Bible is designed to make us thoroughly equipped for every good work in our life. Not partially equipped, not somewhat equipped, not equipped if we are working in a church - but every single one of us, no matter our age, stage or position in life. We will be completely equipped for life through the Word.
These are powerful promises, but I fear that many of us either do not believe them, haven't been taught them, or have tried and given up on experiencing God's Word in this way. And I think it's time to change that.
Once upon a time, I needed to be bribed by candy treats to memorize Bible verses that were often disconnected from the story of the Bible. I'm so grateful that my study of the Bible has moved from a "have to" to a sweet, life-giving practice. What about for you? It's never too late to find the direction, life interpretation, and connection that God offers in his Word!
Nicole Unice is a Bible teacher, author, and passionate communicator who delights in bringing God's Word to life in a personal and relevant way. Her training as a counselor informs her work, as she emphasizes the importance of facing our own reality and embracing the transforming power of God's grace. She is the author of 4 books, her most recent book is Help! My Bible is Alive. Her other titles are She's Got Issues, Brave Enough, and The Struggle is Real. Connect with her at NicoleUnice.com.