If Jesus is the Son of God, His teachings are more than just good ideas from a wise teacher; they are divine insights on which I can confidently build my life. ~ Lee Strobel
Growing up as part-time farm kids, my brother and I loved to take advantage of every opportunity to zip around the farm on our minibikes, ATVs (all-terrain vehicles, aka four- wheelers) and UTVs (utility task vehicles, which are kind of like ATVs but have a cab and a steering wheel). From a young age, our parents taught us how to (safely) ride and operate ATVs. After some training and adult supervision, riding these machines became second nature for us — shifting up and down, bearing down on the throttle, and doing cookies (or donuts, depending on where you’re from) in the fields. The main reason my dad and his brothers bought these fun machines wasn’t for joyrides but for work. They were used every day for tasks like pulling a trailer hauling hazelnut trees to and from location or driving through a field as you pruned. But when my brother and I were little, all we saw was the chance to play.
The first four-wheeler I learned to drive was a manual, meaning you couldn’t just push a button and go. You had to manually shift up or down with your foot to tell it what to do. I listened intently as my dad explained each gear. He went down the list: park, neutral, first, second, and, finally, third gear. The three numbered gears and park were relatively self-explanatory in my mind. Park was the gear you would shift into when you were done riding and ready to turn the key to off. First was the slowest, second was right in the middle, and third was the speediest for this old vehicle. Guess which gear my brother and I loved to race in?
- But neutral was the gear that didn’t make a lot of sense to me. What was the purpose?
If you were on any sort of slight incline or hill and you shifted into neutral, you would start to roll down the hill. If you were on a flat surface and you shifted into neutral, you would just sit there. If you wanted to use the throttle or stomp on the brakes, nothing would happen. It was as if your four-wheeler was incapacitated. Paralyzed. Helpless. You can probably guess that I rarely used that gear, and you would be correct.
The ironic thing is that although I considered neutral to be the absolute silliest and most useless gear on an ATV, I grew up living most of my life in a similar pattern. From the outside looking in, you probably wouldn’t have noticed it. I went to church. I was kind and warm to friends, family, and strangers alike. I owned a few Bibles and always had them on my nightstand. I bowed my head in prayer at each meal with my family.
- I did the Christian thing.
But inside I was disinterested and detached. Instead of putting action to my faith and relationship with God, I was coasting in neutral. Instead of living life out of first, second, or even third gear, it was easier to kick back in neutral and remain stationary. It really wasn’t until I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia that I realized how messed up that was. I finally acknowledged how impersonal my relationship with God had been — and how unfulfilled and empty my life was as a result.
You see, I fully believe I had a genuine relationship with the Lord from the time I confessed Him as my Savior at a young age. There’s no doubt in my mind. But instead of taking up my cross, denying myself, and following God — all extremely active aspects of the Christian life — I pushed my cross off to the side, did whatever I wanted, and followed God only when I felt like it.
Over the years, I have spent a lot of time questioning why.
Why was I so indifferent?
Why was I so numb?
Why was my life not bearing much fruit?
Why did I not care about what God had to say?
There are probably a lot of little reasons why I was so content with life in neutral, so stagnant and unaware, but there is one big reason I just can’t ignore. One that I’m absolutely convinced was the main culprit.
The main reason why I felt so indifferent to God and had become so apathetic toward my faith was because my Bible sat on my nightstand for no other reason than to make me look holy. It wasn’t something I feasted on and read daily, but something that helped fill space and decorate my nightstand.
What was missing from my life was God’s Word. What fell through the cracks was an understanding of what makes God’s Word so life-changing and powerful. Essentially, I was wandering around my life without a guide. Without a road map. Without something to teach me how to live for the Savior I claimed to love and devote my life to.
I’m sure we all have been told at one time or another not to let our Bibles accumulate dust. It sounds cute and trendy — a quote you would re-pin on Pinterest for all your friends to see, right? But for me, the dust on my Bible was real. I even remember picking it up for church one Sunday morning and finding that it had accumulated so much dust and random debris that it was partially stuck to my nightstand. I cringed as I peeled it away from the surface and headed out the door. Yikes. Talk about embarrassing.
Now, I want you to hear me loud and clear when I say this: reading the Bible still doesn’t always come naturally to me. I’m a flawed human. I’m distracted often. I make excuses and put things above God and time with Him in the Word. This isn’t going to be a chapter where I tell you how perfect I am or how easy it was to make this shift from a dusty Bible to a well-loved and well-read Bible.
Perhaps you found yourself nodding along in agreement as I shared my story about my dusty Bible. Perhaps, whether it was easy to admit or not, you found yourself relating to my feelings of indifference and laziness when it came to reading God’s Word.
If you did, I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone, and you’re not a horrible person.
But if we want to truly release our death grip on control, surrender our stories, and trust God instead, we need to dust off our Bibles. If we want a better way to live, if we want a road map for our lives that doesn’t leave us constantly frustrated after our plans have fallen apart, it’s time to start reading.
Excerpted with permission from Surrender Your Story by Tara Sun, copyright Tara Sun Snyder.
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Hey, sisters, we need our Bibles! More than we need our morning coffee, or our cell phones, or our girlfriends who know us inside-out, we need our Bibles! Where’s yours? Let’s wipe off any dust and know God more deeply and dearly! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full