Oh quick, if you don’t know what the what i mean by REAP, you may go here for a full explanation. Basically, REAP is short hand for a bible reading, learning, processing, and prayer method. It’s what works for some people, and it’s what I generally recommend, though not exactly what I follow. Got a better idea? Share!
So, for those of you who resolved to read the bible this year, especially those with certain goals, how ya feeling? (I’m raising my eyebrows at YOU little grasshopper!)
Have you kept up?
Do you feel like you’re learning?
Are you connecting with God?
Is what you’re learning affecting how you’re living?
Do you feel like a failure just from reading those questions?
oh, good! 😉
Lemme ‘splain something to you. No, that would take too long. Lemme summarize: It took me almost NINE YEARS to be faithful to daily devotions after I became a Christian. I faced a lot of issues.
First, I didn’t have a Bible. (There was one in my house, but it wasn’t mine. which I used as an excuse.)
Second, I literally didn’t know until the day I professed faith that people read the Bible outside of church.
Then, once I knew they did, and my friend gave me a Bible (NIV Teen Study Bible, whatWHAT! Thanks, Nikki) I didn’t know HOW to read the Bible. And I didn’t have much theology or background.
So I started reading straight through. Starting at Genesis. (this is January 2001)
Guess how far I got before tuckering out from exhaustion/questions over things I just DID NOT UNDERSTAND? However long you guessed you’re probably right.
Somewhere someone said you were supposed to read your Bible every day, and I tried. I connected with the psalms a lot my senior year of high school. (2003) But I went through spurts. I was better at camps and on mission trips, much worse at school. It wasn’t something people talked about, or asked about, so I was quietly ashamed of myself for not doing better, but didn’t think anyone else was. Except those SUPER Christians. You know, the pastors and nerdy guys who don’t know how to talk to people (did I just call pastors nerds? no. mov-ing-on).
Then, in Spring of 2004, I took a class called Rise of Christianity which was a GREAT class but essentially taught me enough about Bible history get haughty and think, “The Bible doesn’t have to be perfect for God to be.” Which translates to “I can decide what parts of the Bible are important, and how important they are.”
A few years and some stern looks/ a chance of getting pulled from ministry later, I really dove into this thing about scripture being God’s word. Eventually, after plenty of bucking and pride, it makes sense. (Summer 2006) And I realized I needed to really commit to this book. No more dabbling. So I tried reading. Mostly in the flip-through-and-read-what-you-come-to-method. (NOT a good choice for depth. Just a good choice for funsies or if God TELLS you to go look something up.) My plan is “The Bible is important and I should read it.” Not the most concrete plan.
But, I am a nerd. And I am logical, so I tried finding all the things I hadn’t read and reading them. I figured it was important I have this whole thing at least read, lest there be something hiding that I need to know. Andplusalsotoo I love Jesus and reading the Bible DID help me know him better. But mostly I wanted to follow rules, and this seemed like a rule.
Then, Sept 2008 I started working for the Stone. That fall I, in a discipleship program under my female boss, went through a study on Galatians. Here, I learned what it means to STUDY scripture, not just READ it. To ask questions, to apply, to memorize, and it’s great.
But once I was out of the group, I didn’t keep doing it. I didn’t have a plan. Now, the plan isn’t the savior, but I needed it. I needed it as a way to see what progress I was making, and a way to see when I really wasn’t (otherwise, it’s really easy to go a month without reading and not realize my bible is getting dusty over there on the shelf). In most things, I really believe, if you want it, you’re going to have a plan of how to get it. I wanted to read the Bible, I needed a plan of how to do it.
Starting in August of 2009, a year after that discipleship group, I began reading regularly. I started Recovery and there were scriptures to read and apply each day. In January 2010, I started the REAP plan with the Little Grasshopper, who I was disciple-ing.
Let me just point this out to be painfully obvious: Time span from getting a Bible to loving that thing? Jan 2001 to August 2009. And even then, even now, I am not perfect. there are days (ever more sporradic, ever less frequent, by God’s grace) that I miss!
So if you’re having trouble, if you feel like a failure and think it’s never going to get better: keep going. Get a plan. get some encouragement and accountability. Know you aren’t alone. Know it’s worth it (it is SO worth it). And don’t think God loves you more or less based on your performance of reading the Bible, but do keep in mind that reading it helps you know how to better love Him.
oops. 900 words. I guess I did explain after all.