The season of Lent is upon us; a time to reflect inward and prepare our hearts for the glories of Easter. One of the main themes of Lent is repentance, which can seem rather intimidating – especially for a new believer.
Let me assure you that Jesus doesn’t call us to repentance to intimidate us or threaten us; he calls us to return to him – to search ourselves and to have a change in heart.
We are reminded throughout the Bible that we need God, more importantly that we need a Savior. It can be rather difficult at times, as we go through the seasons and busyness of life, to really sit with Jesus the way he would like us to. We live in a world where there are so many voices coming at us, it almost feels impossible to truly be still and to listen.
In a world that is so very loud it is imperative that God’s voice be louder.
If you are anything like me, personal bible reading can often feel as though I’m just checking something off of my list. That’s not a statement I make lightly – it bothers me that I have had such a hard time sitting down to read a few chapters of God’s word. Within minutes of opening the Bible my mind races to my to-do list, someone needs more milk or I start yawning and thinking of the nap I wanted to take.
I used to get down on myself for this, after all, what person can’t give 30 minutes of their day to the Savior of the world? But as I’ve been growing more in my faith I realize that’s not the relationship God wants with me.
He doesn’t want me to return to him out of obligation, he wants my true repentance; a true change of heart – that doesn’t look the same for everyone.
Rend your heart and not your garments. Jesus wants inward change, not outward displays of penitence. So what’s a girl to do when the distractions of this world are getting in the way of a solid relationship with Christ?
After praying about it and asking God to draw me closer, I’ve been introduced to three new ways that my faith is being revitalized through the word.
1. Pick one or two verses to meditate on.
I recently attended a Christian women’s conference and one of the speakers gave us this suggestion: if you aren’t someone who can sit down and read three chapters at a time, then don’t. Pick one parable or a couple of verses – keep it simple. Read the verse out loud just to read it. Pause. Read it again but this time look for one word that stands out to you in the verse(s). Read it again, taking note of that word and meditate on what God may be asking of you. Take that word with you throughout the day and turn the verse into your daily prayer.
2. Have someone else read you the Word.
It’s silly that this never dawned on me before. As a child I have fond memories of sitting in class while our teacher read aloud to us from a chapter book. The story always came to life in a new way for me. Thanks to technology, there’s an app for that! There are plenty of audio versions of the Bible in the app store, you can choose the version of the Bible you prefer as well as the tone of voice you’d like it read in. I’ve been encouraged and uplifted by listening to the gospels while at the gym, driving in the car or even the few precious moments I get in the shower!
3. Write the word journals.
About a month ago I purchased a Write the Word journal that has a bible reading for the day. There is room for me to write out the bible verse(s) and also have space to journal about what I’m feeling that day. I’ve really enjoyed learning scripture in this way and find that having space to write out and reflect upon what I just read is helpful for remembering that reading as I continue through my day. You can also just grab any old notebook and start writing God's word as you read along! Simple but very effective!
There have been times in my life where I could pick up my Bible and read, study, underline and process what the Lord is saying to me, but lately it seems I’m being called back to God in a different way. Once I got over feeling as though I was “cheating” or taking a short cut by finding new ways to return to the Lord, I began to sense a change from within.
I look forward to seeing what the verse of the day is in my journal – some days I really feel as though Jesus is speaking directly to my soul. Likewise, hearing someone else read the Bible to me helps me to relate to what is being said; words take on a new meaning and stick with me longer.
Through God’s word we recognize our need to repent, to change our ways and our hearts and truly return to him. If this is an area that you struggle with, I encourage you to try one of these new ideas and find what works best for you. Jesus doesn’t call us to have a cookie-cutter relationship with him, but he does call us all to repentance. Watch as you are transformed by his love, grace and mercy.
Father God, we praise you this Lenten season for the relationship you’ve called us to through your son, Jesus. As we focus this season on returning to you we pray that you would find new ways to speak to us; new ways of opening our hearts and minds to our need for a Savior and the beautiful gift of salvation freely given through Christ. In His precious name, Amen.