How reading the Bible patiently can help us learn its lessons
I don’t know about you, dear reader, but when I’m reading a good book, I can’t put it down. It’s a race to the end, because each page is more thrilling than the last. I want to find out what happens next, because what I’m reading is just that good.
A few books like that come to mind. Harry Potter. Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. A lot of the travelogues that I greatly enjoy.
Naturally, there’s the Bible, too. But as much as a page-turner as it is (and let’s be honest: from a purely literary standpoint, many of the Bible’s sections – like the Gospels and the book of Acts in the New Testament, and many of the adventures people have in the Old Testament – are as exciting as anything Hollywood can come up with), that’s also probably not the best way to read it – at least not if we want its wisdom and lessons to stick with us.
“Patience is a virtue” we’re often told (Habakkuk 2:3 – “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay” – is one of many verses that talks about this very thing), yet we also know that’s a whole lot easier said than done. I know that, personally, I can easily spend a whole weekend engrossed in a single novel if I just have to – HAVE TO – find out what happens next because it’s just so bloody good. Believe me: I’ve done just that on more than a few occasions.
But we really need to have patience when reading the Bible so that we can let what we’re reading sink in. It may be a bit cliché, but think of yourself like a sponge: a sponge can only absorb so much at a time. That’s us and the Bible, because every single bit is incredibly important – after all, it’s God’s living word.
One trick that I use to help me remember what it is I’m reading is to start my day by reading a couple of paragraphs, praying on it, then spending the day reflecting on what it is I’ve read. Then, right before I go to bed at night, I read the same passage again to see what I’ve remembered. And suddenly, just like that, its meaning becomes all the more powerful.
There’s an important lesson to be learned from every part of the Bible, of course. By reading just a small bit at a time, we can learn those lessons more easily – not unlike students in school. And then, we can apply those lessons we’re learning to our lives – and help teach those lessons to others. Because, like students, we have an exam to prepare for. Our reward for an A+: eternal life.
Now that’s definitely worth studying for.
After living for several years in Europe, Ben pursued a lifelong dream and moved to New Zealand. An Auckland-based writer, his work has appeared in Business Insider, the Sunday Star-Times, The Press, Villainesse, Idealog, Deutsche Welle, The Local Sweden, and more. He can be found on Twitter @benmack_nz.