This post is part of my Foundation 2019 series. Read why I chose “Foundation” as my word for the year here.
For the longest time, I had a serious inferiority complex when it came to my knowledge of Scripture and I felt like I didn’t know how to study it “the right way.”
Even though I’ve been a Christian since I was 8 years old, I didn’t grow up going to youth groups and church camps. I went to a public university and didn’t participate in any campus ministry (unless beer-fueled theology debates with non-believing fraternity guys count, in which case I retract my statement because I totally did that).
I operated with this image that other Christians my age had been through all this indoctrination that I hadn’t (and did not care to, by the way, but that’s a whole ‘nother story), in the process steeping and marinating in scripture and theology, giving them a knowledge that I wasn’t anywhere near having. I pictured them atop this pedestal of piety high above little old me- and I’m quite certain a few of them had the same image, I might add.
Honestly, I wasn’t entirely wrong. Many other Christians my age were indeed attending Bible colleges, involved in campus ministry, running those same youth groups I had never even attended, and they undoubtedly knew way more about Scripture than I did. I mean…it wouldn’t even have been hard to know more about Scripture than I did at that point.
What I was very much drop-dead, stone-cold wrong about was the inferiority complex it gave me and how I let it keep me from even beginning to study Scripture. For years, those insecurities and feelings of “not-enough-ness” stood between me and getting into God’s word.
When I tried to go to a Bible study and saw the woman next to me open a Bible filled with highlighted passages and margin notes, I looked at my own unmarked Bible and saw failure.
When I dove into difficult passages and struggled to connect with and understand what I was reading, my insecurity told me I must be doing it wrong. Wasn’t I supposed to be finding God-breathed epiphanies on EVERY SINGLE PAGE? I’m sure *insert person who I thought was better at the Bible than I was here* does every single time. Sigh…
And so, I would quit. Nobody wants to keep showing up for something that just reminds them how sucky they are every time. It’s why I avoid spin class.
But, here’s the thing: insecurity and feelings of not being enough come from where, class? That’s right, the answer is “Satan.” Say it with me, “The feeling of not being enough always comes from Satan.”
What an absolutely perfect plan for keeping folks from getting into the Word of God: let’s convince them that it’s too hard, they aren’t smart enough, it’s too late, other people know more than they do, etc., etc. It’s a double whammy of separating them from GOD and making them feel horrible about themselves. Well played, Devil. Well played.
And yes, indeed. I let the enemy of my soul successfully stand between me and the Word of God FOR! YEARS!
BUT, NO MORE! NO MORE, I SAY!!!!
A knowledge and pursuit of Scripture is an inextricable part of the Foundation on which my life needs to be built. It’s a key ingredient in the mixture of concrete that my proverbial house is built on- without it, my life could crumble at the slightest bit of resistance.
So this year, pulling on my proverbial Big Girl Britches, getting over myself, and telling the Enemy that he can absolutely suck it, the truth I will find in the Word of God will shout down his lies once I get into it anyway so I might as well just ignore them.
The truth is that any study and/or reading of Scripture is good. There are tons of different ways to do it and we shouldn’t let this idea of “good enough” vs. “not good enough” stop us. Yes, there are ways that have proven to be effective for generations. There is new and “cutting edge” stuff that is just now available to us, like listening via apps on our phones and watching YouTube videos unpacking the text. As we get into the process, we will find that some methods work better than others for us based on the way God has each of us wired and what phase of life we find ourselves in.
But any effort we give it, any choice we make to devote our time and attention to the study of God’s Word is the right thing to do. It’s holy, sacred, and will bear fruit.
Life-changing epiphanies are not necessarily waiting on every page for us, at least not every day, and if we don’t feel moved by the Holy Spirit on a daily basis it doesn’t mean we are failing. Some days, it’s just the DISCIPLINE of doing the work that matters, it honors God when we power through on the tough days.
We also cannot underestimate the importance of just building our familiarity with Scripture. Every time we read a passage, a chapter, a story, it gets logged our memory bank and helps build a working knowledge of Scripture that God can use. A friend or pastor may say, “It’s like Joseph and Potiphar’s wife, when he ended up in jail and God redeemed it” and you’re like, “YES! I READ THAT STORY!” and you can totally get what they’re saying in a way you couldn’t have otherwise.
My word count is quickly mounting, so I think I’ll take my leave here. There is much more to say, much more to share, and there will be time for that in future posts.
But for now, I want to send a huge hug to anyone who has ever felt like I have, like the study of Scripture is intimidating and a little defeating, and encourage you to take a deep breath and take those first brave steps to sending that lie packing. It is true that Scripture is big and imposing and layered and complex and at times shrouded in all sorts of mystery. But it’s a lie that you can’t study it. It’s a lie that it’s too late to start. It’s a lie that God doesn’t have revelations and truths waiting to reveal to you, just for you, exactly the way He made you.