My parents gave me a gift.
At the time I didn’t know its impact; but now, years later, I am so very thankful. This gift was the quiet and consistent view of them faithfully reading their Bibles. Morning after morning. Year after year. Why do I desire to wake up in the early morning to read my Bible? I think a big part of the answer is because that’s what my mom did. What a gift! I am forever grateful.
Now I realize not all of you had a similar childhood experience, whether because of different family situations or unbelieving parents or crazy schedules. But my point is: others are watching and learning, and it’s your turn to build an amazing legacy. My mom didn’t grow up watching her mom read the Bible, but that didn’t stop my mother from writing a new story by God’s grace, inspired by the simple desire to know Jesus. And now my siblings and I reap the reward of both her and my dad’s faithfulness.
You might never know the impact it will have on your precious daughter if she comes out to the living room every morning in a sleepy fog, and there you are with your Bible and journal. Or what the co-worker might start to wonder who happens on you with an open Bible at your desk at lunchtime. Or your consistent example for the women in your small group who see growing passion and excitement about your daily time in the Word. Our faithful study of the Bible impacts others—it’s true, friends!
Speaking specifically to mothers: they always tell us our actions speak louder than words, and our children will follow our example. Well, this is one area that will benefit you and your children. Read your Bible for Him and for yourself, and your children will watch and learn (and hopefully copy as they grow older). If nothing else, they will know and understand what the habit of faithful time with Jesus can look like. You don’t need to say a word—just sit down to read and let them watch. In the book Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus, author Lois Tverberg quotes Rabbi Menahem Mendel, who said: “If you truly wish your children to study Torah [God’s Word], study it yourself in their presence. They will follow your example. Otherwise, they will not themselves study Torah but will simply instruct their children to do so.” Do you tell your children they should read their Bibles? Or do you simply show them how it can be done?
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.Hebrews 4:12
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. . . . They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.Psalm 19:7-11
Scripture is a sword and it is honey. Some days a passage wacks me upside the head, giving a blow to my pride, bringing good conviction and repentance. But other days, reading the Bible imparts calm to my spirit and soothing comfort when I’m on a rough road. Our children, our spouse, and our friends will be encouraged simply by our faithful practice of meeting with Jesus, as well as when we share what we learned to spur them on with truth (Hebrews 10:24).
Sally Clarkson writes, “I knew that if I took time to be with [my friend, Phyllis], I would always be drawing from the well of spirituality in which she invested daily. I would leave her presence wanting to love God more, full of determination to be more faithful and excited to live more purposefully. . . . I am especially thankful for Phyllis, for all the time she has spent with God so that I could be with Him when I am with her” (Girl’s Club, italics mine). That last part gives me chills—amen, Jesus. May I faithfully meet with You so that everyone around me will be with You when they’re with me because of the time I’ve spent with You.
Let’s Get Practical
Sometimes it’s helpful to think of life in terms of seasons: high school, college, early marriage, career, young motherhood, mid-life, established career, etc. Each season may require a different plan for our time studying the Word. For example, in college I set aside larger chunks of time to study Scripture and there were also wonderful opportunities to study with friends. During early marriage while working full-time, I used lunch breaks at work and also studied in-depth in the evening when my husband worked. No matter your season, consider setting aside a few moments on Sunday night to plan your reading times for the week. Perhaps one week looks like 7:30 a.m. on Monday, lunch break on Tuesday, deeper study on Wednesday evening, etc. Or maybe in your current season your Bible study looks like four days of twenty minutes and three days of an hour of deeper study. We can move and flex our Bible study with the changing schedules and routines of current season.
Motherhood brought a set of challenges all its own, including (but not limited to) sleep-deprivation, wacky schedules, brain fog, and never having a moment alone. But I learned a few things over the past nine years of child-rearing (including hosting more than forty children via foster care and Safe Families for Children). I hope these tips are encouraging to you and start you thinking about how you can make Bible study work in your current season. And these tips also work for other seasons sans kids! We all encounter challenging schedules and busy lives; but, with a little creativity and determination, we can still make Bible study the most important part of our day.
First, switch it up. Listen to the audio Bible while you mop the floor. Read in the morning and journal in the evening. Get up earlier, which might mean turning off that show in the evening to get enough sleep. Or maybe you’re a night owl and your best study is at night, so schedule it in. Join a Bible study group and get yourself some accountability. The possibilities are endless! Strategies will be unique for each person, and also different for every person during different seasons. Don’t be afraid to try something new.
Here are a couple of audio options:
- “Bible in One Year 2021 With Nicky Gumbel” on the YouVersion Bible app. This plan includes passages every day from the Old Testament, New Testament and a Psalm or Proverb, along with commentary from Nicky and his wife, Pippa.
- The Bible Project app and podcast are excellent resources for understanding the context of Scripture and diving deeper in understanding. One suggestion: it might be helpful to watch their book introductions every time your start a new book of the Bible.
- OpenLine with Dr. Michael Rydelnick is a call-in radio show to discuss hard to understand questions about the Bible and the spiritual life. It is an engaging and helpful companion as you read through the Bible.
Second, let the interruptions happen. Right now our children get up at 7 a.m. and they all come pounding down the stairs to eat breakfast. I usually read until about 7:30, which means I am continually interrupted with fight-refereeing, directing the microwave traffic, or cleaning up milk spills. The interruptions are frustrating at times and usually break up my “flow,” but it’s worth it for my kids to see me reading and for me to get my study done! Perhaps for you, the baby didn’t sleep well last night, so perhaps set aside twenty minutes mid-morning to meet with Jesus and let him play beside you. Plop yourself on the floor with a basket of toys and your Bible and let the interruptions happen.
Related to this second tip is encouragement that you can train your children to let you read. Back in 2016 when we suddenly added two children to our family (read more here), my two-year-old son was in the habit of waking around 5 a.m. every morning. He shared a room with his two brothers and it wasn’t worth it to put him back to bed. So we would get up together: me with coffee, him with Cheerios. I taught him to play quietly next to me while I read, journaled, and cried—desperately needing God to help me through the rest of the day. It sure was an early morning, but I think those times with Jesus carried me through that crazy season. Less sleep was frustrating, but my soul was filled and that was invaluable. Moral of the story: I flexed my plan to move with my child’s crazy schedule and made Bible study fit in that season.
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.Romans 15:4
Third, just do it. I believe there is no hopeless season where you absolutely cannot find some sort of way to meet with Jesus. It’s the most important “meeting” of your day, so get creative! Read a chapter while the kids are eating breakfast (and maybe read out loud to them). Let them watch a show for fifteen minutes while you study during rest time. Set the coffee maker the night before and wake up ten minutes earlier. Listen to an audio Bible on your morning commute. Even when I was a super-sleep-deprived mother with an infant, I did my best to meet with Jesus every morning (or mid-morning or early afternoon, depending on how the day went). Sometimes it meant fifteen minutes less sleep in the morning, but time with Jesus is always worth it. I’d drag myself out of bed, repeating to myself: “Later today, I’ll be so glad I did it.” And I was always glad.
Will you join me?