When I published that "I'm not going to study the Bible" post yesterday, the Youth Group Girl in me immediately felt guilty. I'm not going to study my Bible? Isn't that like saying I'm not going to love God or I'm not going to vote Republican? But I kept thinking about it and I think, yes, I really am going to stop studying it . . . at least the way that I have most often approached studying my Bible. For this year. Or until I feel like I need to change things up again.
We seem to forget that when Paul wrote his letters to the churches, that the people were already believers before they received these letters. That most were illiterate. That there weren't copies of the letters. So they were passed around, bit by bit, memorized, and put into practice.
I have often felt this pressure that I should be able to read through my Bible in a year. At least several chapters a day. And so, from the time I was in, like, junior high, I would try really really hard to wake up early, and I'd fumble for my Bible and turn the light on and sit there, propped against my pillows, half awake, dozing in and out, reading my chapters for the day. And I'd close my Bible, pray, fall asleep while praying, and rush off without really remembering what I had read, and doing nothing with it. Most days.
I'm going to call this approach, J.J. bites.
Because my brother, Jordan, is known in our family for taking bites that are too big when he eats. He always has. Food is not something to be enjoyed, for him it is something to get done. And so he would sit at dinner and shovel in these huge mouthfuls of food, not really paying attention to what he was eating, and my entire life my mother has tried to get him to slow down. Breathe. Talk to us. Enjoy your meal. His wife Holly says she finds herself, without realizing it, racing to keep up with him.
And my daughter Sami is three and starting to have this problem, and we tell her, "don't take J.J. bites".
Because when she does she chokes, or it spills out and is impolite, or she eats too fast and gets a bellyache.
I think we tend to approach Scripture this way. A plate of food that is necessary, but not always enjoyable. Something to get done rather than something to become. A book to be read rather than beauty to behold. We take J.J. bites. And there are J.J.'s all around us and before we know it we are speeding up to keep up with them, to finish the meal, rather than tasting every bite.
Which is why I am not studying my Bible that way this year. I am not going to stuff my mouth too full that I cannot swallow, I can't taste what I'm eating. This year I'm taking it slow, bite by bite.