Recenty, I had the deeply humbling, privilege-of-a-lifetime to work as a Bible editor for The Message Devotional Bible, and I treasured every minute of the time I was able to spend poring over the words that would accompany the Scriptures for thousands of readers. The immense, weighty responsibility was a unique spiritual experience, and today’s guest author enjoys that role full-time as a senior editor for Bibles at Tyndale House Publishers. For fourteen years, Keith Williams has relished every moment of work that goes into creating Bible editions that will nourish reader’s souls and push them to engage ever more deeply with God’s Word. Today we welcome him to talk a little bit about how we might navigate some of the roadblocks we encounter on the days that we just don’t feel like diving into the Scriptures. It’s a grace to welcome Keith to the farm’s front porch today…
Why does Bible reading seem to be so hard?
Have you ever found yourself longing to have connection with God, to hear from Him through His Word, but it just isn’t happening?
I’ll be honest, there have been plenty of days when I glance at my closed Bible in the morning and just can’t get myself to pick it up.
It isn’t that I don’t want to hear from God, or that I don’t value the Bible. Far from it—I love the Scriptures and have dedicated nearly two decades of my life to studying it and making tools that will help people to read, understand, and be changed by the God they meet in its pages.
I have every reason to dig into the Bible on a daily basis, and every tool at my disposal to benefit from that connection with God.
Yet still, it sometimes just doesn’t happen.
For whatever reason, we all seem to fall into ruts where our time with God’s Word feels like more of a chore than a real-time connection with the living God.
Why is this the case? And is there anything we can do about it?
The Bible is an amazing book.
It is ancient, yet it is also living and active in a way that makes it possible for your experience with it to be fresh each day.
It is universally relevant across time and culture, yet it is also intensely personal communication from God to each individual.
Its message is simple enough that children can understand it, yet profound enough that the most learned and wise among us can never plumb its depths.
It is truly unique—the only text in the world that comes with the promise that we will hear God’s voice as we engage with it.
The Bible can also be intimidating, for many of the same reasons that it is amazing. The ancient words and context make if foreign and strange to us.
The fact that it carries the authoritative voice of God puts us on our heels—careful not to mishandle it and so misrepresent the God who is speaking. (Side note: some so-called interpreters should certainly tread a bit more carefully than they do on this account).
These factors and more can hinder our ability to dive into the Bible, either for the first time or after you have been in a season of distance from it.
But perhaps all you need is a little nudge in the right direction to help you get started—or restarted. Honestly, there’s no wrong place to go if you want to hear from God through the Scriptures.
He is living and active in every word, on every page.
But experience tells us that some places are a little bit easier than others when we find ourselves in a place that God’s voice isn’t so easy to discern.
John’s Gospel is a perfect place to start with the Bible, no matter what level of experience you have engaging the Scriptures. It is a great place to meet Jesus for the first time, and a great place to deepen your relationship with God after a lifetime of faith.
John tells the story about Jesus in a way that is winsome, engaging, and challenging. He uses simple language, but broaches concepts that are so deep even the great philosophers and theologians have enjoyed spirited debate over their significance.
He uses humor, word-play, and raw emotion to show Jesus’ humanity in ways both whimsical and profound.
He writes his Gospel as a series of carefully chosen, well-told stories and scenes that make it clear that this man Jesus is no ordinary man, but actually God-in-flesh, the one who loves every person He meets with a fierce, determined love that will do the unimaginable for the sake of bringing everyone under the capacious, loving embrace of His Father.
That’s a story that can’t help but draw us in.
And propel us to continue learning about Jesus and His Father so that we can be a part of that story.
So what are you waiting for? Start with John.
Filament is a simple, beautiful Bible designed to give a great experience of reading God’s Word with no distractions on the page.
But it also comes with a companion app, and when you scan the page with your smartphone or tablet it connects to a whole world of content for the page you are reading.
Study notes, devotionals, profiles, videos from The Bible Project, interactive maps, and more. If you want to read God’s Word without distraction, leave your phone in your pocket. If you want to dig deeper, your device unlocks a rich set of curated content―study notes, devotionals, videos, interactive visuals, and more.
We’ve even created some free resources to help you get started. Head over to StartWithJohn.com and you’ll find two great options. The #John1Challenge is a five-day journey of going deeper with the first chapter of John through five different lenses. Or perhaps you prefer the 21-day reading plan that will walk you through the entire Gospel of John. Both of them are completely free, and come with access to a whole world of in-depth content from the Filament Bible.
[ Our humble thanks to Tyndale for their sponsorship in today’s devotion ]