Life gets away from us sometimes. You don't need to feel bad about it, because it happens to us all. But all too often the things that give way to our busy schedules – making extra time to look after ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually; investing in our relationships with others – are the things that really matter.
You might be sitting there thinking that reading the Bible is one of the things you've sacrificed at the altar of your hectic life. Do you find yourself thinking about your day and wishing that you'd made time to connect and engage with God's word? Do you regret not finding the space in your schedule to cultivate a true and meaningful relationship with Your Heavenly Father? Do you scroll through your Instagram feed and feel like you're the only person on there who doesn't seem to be taking the time to sit down and soak in the scriptures?
Well, you aren't alone. Rest assured that people are out there, all over the world, feeling the exact same thing – wanting to make space for The Word but worried that the space just doesn't seem to be there.
The Bible teaches us so much about making space for others. Biblical hospitality isn't about inviting friends over, cooking a meal, or making sure your house is clean and welcoming. It is a stance that goes much further in actively encouraging us to make space in our lives for others: not just the people we know, but for our neighbors, to the poor, to strangers, widows, orphans, and even the people who have betrayed us. Romans 12:13 tells us to: "Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality."
What if we consideredourselves
to be the Lord's people in need? What if we considered that for us, right now, true hospitality might not involve making space for a person, but making space for His Word?
In John 8:31-32, Jesus said, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
Getting our heads around this concept of "abiding" can be difficult, whichever verse we are relating to. This term comes from the Greek "meno
"meaning to remain, to stay, or to continue. When we apply this to Jesus' teachings – and more specifically to the Word – what matters is perseverance: that we pursue Him and continue to do so. Abiding in Jesus, His love, and His Word, is what makes us disciples. Making space for The Word is a crucial part of knowing Him and abiding in Him, which is why it is so important for us to do so.
Over the last couple of years, I've had numerous people – mostly strangers – contact me asking how I go about cultivating time in The Word daily. Their messages actively inspired me to write a devotional because each has touched my heart in their willingness to admit their distance from God and their desire to be closer to Him. They have also encouraged me to reflect on my own relationship with The Word and how important it is in my life, as well as to think about the ways my own Bible practices can help others to cultivate their own rich and lasting relationships with Him.
Owning a Bible is no longer a crucial part of studying The Word, but I've always found it to be a helpful one. Reading on your smartphone, tablet or desktop may help you feel connected and engaged in the midst of everything else going on, but it doesn't allow you to distance your "Bible Time" from the rest of your life. Investing in a Bible is a tangible and beautiful way of committing to making space for The Word in your life.
The Book of James encourages us to be "doers of the word, not hearers only"
(1:22). In-depth Bible studies are a fantastic way to engage with The Word on a community level. Like me, you may have found it impossible to join a community Bible study group in your area, which can make it hard to actively jump into discussions of God's Word. Online communities can be a lifesaver – they are a quick and easy way to meet likeminded people, and offer a place for you to ask questions, engage in discussion, or just know that other people out there are reading the same passages as you and responding to them. Social media can also be a valuable tool in reading what other people have to say about their time in The Word as well as getting your own ideas out there.
Journaling Bibles are another way for us to be active participants in The Word rather than just passive receivers. Opening the pages of a new Bible can be daunting, but it can also be a total delight: pages and pages of space begging to be filled with your own responses to The Word and how it is working in your life. I'm constantly in awe of people who have turned their humble Bibles into works of art, and have found my own creative efforts have thrived under the examples of others. Over time, Bibles have the capacity to tell stories and evoke memories about certain times of your life. They don't need to be neat and tidy and can be functional or creative – looking down at my own Journaling Bible often reminds me of the real truth and beauty that lies behind that famous quote from Charles Spurgeon: "A Bible that's falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn't."
Making space for The Word also means making time
. This can be the difficult part. You might be working full-time. You might have kids at home. You might have a thousand other things going on that means getting a few moments to yourself seem completely impossible. Only you will know how, where and when studying the Bible will fit into your life, and it may take a bit of time and patience to make it fit. My own time in The Word comes in the morning, with a cup of hot tea or coffee, and I'm more than willing to sacrifice an extra twenty minutes in bed for it. These moments set me up for the day and encourage my heart. Your own time might be in the morning, or it could come during naptime, or before you settle into bed at night. Whenever you find yourself able to make space for The Word in your day, keep the appointment! It is far easier to make something a habit if you can make time for it at the same time each day.
Just as regular hospitality means making space for others when we'd sooner focus on ourselves, making space for the Word of God brings all kinds of emotions and responses into our lives – comfort and discomfort, joy and sadness, hope and fear. "For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart"
(Hebrews 4:12). The Word is right outside and knocking at your door today. Let it in.
By Natalie Seale
Originally Published in Be Still Magazine, Issue 5.