In The Valley of Dry Bones*

Today’s topic was suggested by a reader who is a frequent visitor to Salt.

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Obviously, the Word is not dry and dusty—it is relevant and fresh. It is our vision that becomes stale. How do we renew it? Some report never having this problem—but it will do well to continue reading this post just in case the situation arises later down the road. Reading further might also help prepare a compassionate response to those who are struggling rather than offering glib, bumper-sticker theology.

Remaining connected to the Word is the only way. God’s Word is alive and active—to abandon it disconnects us from power and light. Regular reading of God’s Word is a necessity—Scripture is how God speaks. Without His teaching and reassurance, faith will falter or remain infantile. When we feel stale in our time with Him, when we feel that the Word has become dry, it may suit us to step back and try something new.

Understand your purpose. It is not about searching for a verse to defend a theological position. This is not marathon or binge reading. It is not listening to Christian music, reading devotional books, going to church, or listening to sermons.  While these teachings and examples may be encouraging, they should never substitute for a regular, personal time of listening to what God has to say.

What does that time look like? Well, it depends on who you are. And like those old pantyhose that promise “one-size fits all,” there is no one, single, right way.  You are, as humor columnist Erma Bombeck describes, “a pair of white socks in a pantyhose world.” You do not have to rise at 4:00 in the morning, read for hours, or feel holy. You do need a regular time, a teachable heart, and a Bible. You do need to persevere.

A few suggestions:

  • Change translations—it will give you  a fresh perspective. If you are usually an NASB gal, take a break and check out the NIV translation. Try a paraphrase or King James. Bible Gateway offers an online, searchable database of over 150 translations.
  • Write you own paraphrase. Are you paying attention to the words?
  • Listen to audio recordings of Scripture. Borrow from a friend, a library, or an electronic source. Bible Gateway also has an audio choice. (YouTube offers some readings by James Earl Jones and Johnny Cash.)
  • Read aloud. It helps with focus and uses visual and auditory connections in the brain to better store the experience for a needed time.
  • Underline, annotate, highlight. Save this for your moments alone with God—not your pastor’s emphasis. Highlight or underline key words and note how those words speak to you. The Bible is not a coloring book—paragraphs of color may indicate unfocused reading.
  • Don’t underline annotate and highlight. Yes, you read correctly. If you are in the habit of highlighting or making marginal notes, your pages can become cluttered, and your eye is drawn to underlined words not seeing the words anew. Why not read fresh pages for fresh ideas?

Whatever your method, by daring to read, your life and perspective will change.

*Ezekiel 37

 

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