I’ve been in a weird place lately. Trying to find a new normal amid a pandemic and social distancing.
I’ve found in these strange times that I’ve had an incredibly hard time reading anything (and I dearly love to read). Novels, social media posts, the Brit Lit essays and assignments I’ve been grading–no matter what it is, I can’t seem to focus. I read the same lines over and over again or skim over words that refuse to form coherent sentences. Books that I’m pretty sure I would ordinarily love, I find them dry and difficult to follow. (However, I’m pretty sure I’d always find To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf difficult to follow at any date and time…sorry to my 11th and 12th grade students who are slogging through this with me right now).
I’ve also found myself shying away from my quiet time with God. I didn’t understand why until today.
I was feeling restless this afternoon. It was one of those days where the skin I’m living in feels a little too tight. There seems to be a million things to do and I don’t know where to start. (or maybe I just don’t want to) And the thought went through my head, “You need time with Jesus. That’s what you need.” I squirmed. And then I knew why I hadn’t been chasing after that time with him.
It felt too hard.
Do you ever feel pressure when you sit down with God’s Word to get something out of it? That the point of it all is to sit down and read and pray and come away better for it? I needed to read his Word, but I knew that I’d read the same lines over and over again, mind blank. How was I supposed to “get something” from that?
Ugh. Get something from it. That’s a big part of the problem, isn’t it? This consumer mentality when it comes to our faith? Yikes.
I listened to that still small voice. I fixed a cup of coffee and sat outside in the beautiful sunshine. Put my Bible in my lap and opened it to the book of John. I started reading. My mind kept drifting and I’d look down and read those same lines again and again. My heart cried out in frustration, “I can’t concentrate. I keep reading these same verses. My brain feels like a block of concrete.”
And I felt like God spoke something back. Gentle, carefree. “So what? Is that verse you read any less powerful the second time you read it? Or the third? Or the forty-third?”
I looked down and read John 1:4, 5 again…and again.
In him was life, and that life was the Light of all mankind. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Tears filled my eyes. This sense of release overwhelming me. And then it was like God said something else to my weary soul. “What if you sat here with me. And I didn’t speak and you didn’t speak. Would that be so bad?”
Cue the next wave of tears. This pressure I was putting on myself for my time with God was ridiculous. In a relationship, is there anything sweeter than being able to sit next to the person you love and not speak a word? To know someone in that way? Why should it be any different in my relationship with Jesus?
What is it about human nature that is so bent on making relationships transactional? If I do X, I get Y.
Why do I trip back into spending time with God in order to get something? Will I? Sure. But when I feel like some sort of failure because I come away without something I can articulate to another human being, then I’m missing something far greater.
So here I am, in the midst of a pandemic, trying to find my way back to where I belong. Withness. To read to KNOW him. Not to “get.”
Maybe I’ll read the same lines over and over again. Maybe I’ll just sit there with an unopened Bible on my lap. Keeping it close just because it’s HIS. Kinda like snuggling your husband’s sweatshirt because it smells like him. I’m better off with an unopened Bible on my lap, thinking on He who is the Word than eyeing it across the room, afraid to draw close because I feel like I don’t have the brainpower or energy to glean anything.
Maybe I’m alone in this. Or maybe like me, reading God’s Word has felt like a chore instead of a blessing lately. I hope this encourages you to sit with him for a little while. Neither of you has to say a thing.