Friday, June 24, 2011

How to Hear

For all of my make-believe, put-on smartness, I'm learning more everyday about my foolishness.

Most of it is hind-sight-obvious in a way that makes me want to crawl under something and hide for a while.

But hiding requires darkness and I want these truths to grow, so here I am, scattering the seeds of confession out into the sunshine of you.

The truth is, I've never been a good Bible reader.

Doesn't that sound dumb? Who says something like that?

Well, I've said it secretly to myself a million times, but I've probably never said it out loud until today.

I have found the Bible boring, sometimes. I've always believed in its power and it's searing truth, but, you know, I've heard it all before. In the way I prefer not to watch the same movie twice or read a good book again, I mostly concluded that I already knew what was in there. And, PS, a lot of it isn't as feel-good as I would hope.

I would go through spurts. I never let it get too dusty, because my secret thoughts aside, I knew enough to know that a nice, Christian girl has to put in her time. It felt good when I put a check in that little box.

All the while, I read books. Big stacks of books that entertained and transported me.

I mostly read fiction, but a few nights ago, I started reading Radical Together, by David Platt. We had listened to his "Radical" series over a year ago. (It's also in book form.) It flipped us end over end and we're still not fully upright. I hope that it stays that way. Having had my world already rocked, I sort of thought this newest book would be more of a reminder of what I already understood.

Then I got to the part about the Word of God and every life-shattering thing that it is.

In our lives and in the church , we are never without a revelation from God. At all times you and I have his message to use in all its power, authority, clarity and might. We don't have to work to come up with a word from God; we simply have to trust the word he's already given us. - David Platt, Radical Together

The loose, hazy notion that I was missing something gripped tight around my heart and I understood something very fundamental for the very first time. I ask and ask and ask, I pray and beg for God to speak to me, to make clear his purpose in my life. I know that my salvation does not rest in the number of hours that I read. I know that I walk with Him daily. He's right here, right this moment. I've never doubted that. But in all of my blind asking and clenched-jaw seeking, in all of my fears that His voice is too quiet or my ears don't work right, I'm not going to the place where he speaks the loudest. I'm here boo-hooing about not getting to talk to my best friend and all the while the phone sits bored and worthless on the charger.

His word never changes. It is relevant today. He knew every circumstance we would face, so he made sure to cover all of it. It's not about what we are supposed to be doing. It's not about doing a chore in order to make Him happy. I personally don't think he cares when we read or how much we read. But if we say we need answers from him, then it makes no sense not to pick them up off the bedside table. They're already there.

Right now we are seeking. We're begging for directions.

It only took 35 years, but I finally understand where I will find them.


  1. Chills.

    Confession: I suck at reading my Bible. I have a very know it all, been there read that, attitude. He's been working on me in this regard. You are not alone, friend.

  2. I love this quote...we simply have to trust the word he's already given us...tears girly..thanks for sharing your imperfections...just shows how God uses them for good :)

  3. Great post! Thank you for it. I know you'll find that direction you are seeking.

  4. That is a great quote - I read Radical a few weeks ago and jotted down a few things he said.
    I go through spurts with my Bible reading. The thing that I have most recently discovered helping me was using the inductive approach. It seemed tedious at first, but I am amazed at what God is teaching me.
    My weird thing is, when my Bible reading is going well, my prayer life seems dull. (Is that okay to describe it that way?) And when I am a better pray-er, I'm not in the Word as much. Shouldn't the two be strong together?

  5. So very true!! If only other Christians would "get it." It only took me about 37 years. ;) The past eight years I have read through the Bible five times and I CAN NOT GET ENOUGH!

  6. nailed my thoughts completely...and said it so much better than I. Glad to hear I'm not the only one. Thanks for honestly encourages me.

    PS:Love the Youversion reading's my homepage to remind me to do it first...and boy, do I need reminded often.

  7. I feel like this is a message I am hearing over & over the last few weeks. Like maybe the Holy Spirit is trying to stir something up in me too. I think I've used the excuse of being a tired, busy mom to make myself feel better about my lack of time spent in the Word. Enough is enough. It's high time I make Him my first & foremost priority every day. Thank you for your honesty!

  8. I love your honesty, girl! Thanks for keepin' it real :)

    I definitely go in spurts with my Bible reading. My "June Challenge" from Kelle's blog is to read & journal every night. So far it's going really well. I've missded one night so own confession! I'm always amazed how I hear waaaay more clearly when I take the time to read consistently. I want to make it my Forever Challenge but that seems daunting and never ending. I think I'm gonna have to take it one month at a time...hmmm, maybe day by day.

    Again, I appreciate your real-ness :)


  9. Oh gosh, I suck too. Thanks for the wonderful insight.

  10. something that's keeps coming up for me lately. not on accident, i'm sure. :) one thing that helps me tremendously is subscribing to a biblegateway reading plan in my google reader. i'm not allowed to read my other bloggy friends until i read what i need most...HIS word!

  11. Confessionals are freeing.Although wether you read fifty pages or five I feel your faith in him with every post you write.Have a good weekend.

  12. The thought crossed my mind yesterday as to why I seem to think that I alone am exempt from having to read God's word.

    Sure, I beleive it. I beleive it is for everyone.

    Somehow though, I have brain-washed myself into believing that the trails we have faced over the past two years have stretched me and grown me into someone that knows it all, and therefore the word would no longer need to be read.

    I think it comes on the heels of this: I need Jesus and I know it. Every thought, question, sin, financial trouble, health issue, baby Mama drama boils down to: I need Jesus. So, since I already so obviously KNOW that. I have excused myself from the consistent reading of the word. Because we all know that the word just says over and over and over that we all need Jesus. NEED Him.

    I hate how you drag all this stinkin' honesty out of me. For crying out loud.


    And just in case anyone else is ready this (cause I read comments too): I'm not being sassy. I do read my Bible, but obviously not like I should be, and I have my sassy pants on today, so know that I DO need Jesus and I DO love him, and I am SO proud of Shannan for calling herself out.

  13. This brought tears to my eyes. I am so excited for you. As someone who got this a few years back attending and leading a well-known international/interdenominational Bible Study I want everyone to read and love the Word of God. And so many Christians look at it as "holy homework" instead of God's way of speaking to us. What a privilege it is to have the freedom and the ability to read this Book! TGBTG!!!!

  14. i love that you're real, ms. shannon. and not trying to sound like i'm "one-upping" you at all, but i love reading my bible. i think a lot of it has to do with doing good bible studies that teach you how to read the Word, like beth moore. love that girl.
    i'm a history lover too, and so much of the bible is historical. i love that. i think the more we read it, the more we want it. does that makes sense? anyway, i hope you have a newfound love of the word :)

  15. Thank You for this post..very riveting...I shall pick up the "Good Book" again and read...

  16. Shannan, we are twins. I go through this back and forth with the bible too. Having been raised in a Christian home, I've got a lot of "I shoulds" leftover... and to be honest, I prayed just this morning "Is everything going wrong because of something I've done?" As if God's up there keeping tally of whether or not I'm making the grade.

    It's so fuzzy and I wish for better understanding everyday...but I guess that's sometimes where he wants us...asking, asking, asking... and keeping him at the forefront, where he needs to be.

  17. this is such a great post. I too have went in spurts where I read and read the bible. I have tried several times to read it front to back...I get to about Kings and then....yawn...I know...BAD girl! ;) I have read all of the NT but the OT is yeah, I am confessing too.


  18. well that's truth. a truth i understand. it's like a chore to read, but when i do it's pure HE's spoken directly to me. so why in the world don't i pick it up more often?? great post...have a wonderful weekend.

  19. Amen Sister!
    I feel like you wrote this just for me!!!!

  20. You are so right on. I think you just wrote what so many of us feel. Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful weekend :)

  21. Wow!! That was just what I needed!!! It only took me 38 years. ;-)

    Right under my nose the whole time... Now I get it!

  22. your not the only nice christian girl who struggles to read her bible every day...imagine the beating you take when you're in full time christian ministry and you don't do it. I know God intimately enough to know that the beating isn't coming from him....but still, the beating is ruthless at times.

    but, when I do read it consistently, not to punch a time clock, but to be sustained, to be encouraged, to be discipled, it transforms my heart and renews my mind and cleanses me, making me whole and free in Him.

    his word is everlasting and true...grateful that it reached into your soul today.

  23. what a dork I am to correct myself in a 2nd message, but I can't stand to write your when I'm supposed to write you're and I meant to type YOU'RE not the only nice christian girl........

    okay, I'm finished now. :)

  24. praise jesus.
    it's the fight for my life, making time to get into the word every day. making myself open up that sweet fountain, even when i am too ignorant to know how parched i am, blessing every time. i mean, it is just necessary. required even. press on, darling sister! much rest and wisdom is in your bible soaked future. praying for you.

    p.s. i love you

  25. Love this. In January my husband and I committed to reading the Bible in a year. We picked a plan from You Version (they have so many to choose from). We challenge each other to keep up and talk about what we are reading. Sometimes our kids see us reading and ask us to read to them. This is my first time reading it in a year and I'm loving it. Homeschooling and having 4 kids under 6 makes it hard, but being in His Word daily is so rewarding.

  26. Thank you! I needed to hear this - I needed to remember this. I too am a horrible Bible reader - I try and I start out strong and then I get distracted and I fall off. I plead for signs and answers to help me figure things out - and you're right they're right there - I just forget to go look.

  27. Beautiful, Shannan, and so true. Just what we all need to realize!

  28. Oh honey, I'm a few years down the road ahead of you, and I'm a horrible Bible reader too. I always have been for many of the reasons you stated. BUT, God in His mercy is working on that for me. I've started reading the New Living Translation the past two or three years, and now I'm to the point that I can't wait to read it every morning. It's not me, though. I think it's Him asking me to spend time with Him. And I'm so glad that after all these years of neglecting Him that He's still willing to sit with me and reveal Himself to me.

  29. Wow Shannan! Call me out why don't ya! Thank you for sharing this- I relate all too well and am taking the hint :)

  30. Good grief! I've been thinking about this a lot lately and you are right on! Thanks for the encouragement and honesty.


  31. Yes! Yay for you!!! It isn't about a check off list, a nod of approval from Him, or about a "good girl must do". All those things put the focus, or purpose, on US.

    It's all about Him. Him speaking to us. Him ready & available. Him loving us, right through those powerful words that are active and living.

    I have to say that reading His Word doesn't always get me there (where I hear from Him like He's right beside me saying, "Erin, here's the plan, girlie"). I've learned I need to prepare my heart (pray! beforehand), then read, then study what I've read. My study varies by either using key words and see what other passages in the bible say about those words, from using commentaries (I know I'm a dork), to using bible studies that are GREAT (like precept & Beth Moore).

    Thanks for the honesty, girl, but with you, I don't expect different. You rock.

  32. what a great post~
    i've been drawn lately to pick up that good book, too...

  33. Thanks for TRUTH,for confession,stimulation,& a challenge!

  34. I used to be very good at reading my bible, but now not so much. Not that it's a good thing, but I found comfort in this post-in that I'm not alone. I've had this guilt about it a lot lately because I know it's a way to become close to Him. I just need to pick it up and read!

  35. You know Shannan, God spoke really loudly to me yesterday. He just spoke very loudly to me just now while I was reading your post. He speaks quite loudly to me a lot lately and you know what? I've been ignoring Him, well not totally ignoring Him, just sort of telling Him that I'll listen to Him later.
    Why am I so damn stubborn? Or maybe rebellious might be a better word.

  36. I have struggled too with the "check the box" mentality.....that said - it's His living breathing Word - I forget that sometimes. Last fall, a sweet sister of mine encouraged myself and some friends to read a portion of the Word together - sharing from time to time what spoke to us (via-email). It was wonderful. God did speak and some of His Words hung like glue on my heart. He's so patient.....I long to find His Word as the first thing I read each and every day - not because I want to do what's right but because it is so right!

    P.S. Is the sign still in the yard? I'm believing that if God wants you to move (physically), He'll sell the house, sign or no sign ;) He's so amazing like that!

  37. Not so good myself. this year I decided to read through the (New Testament) Bible. It has been so. so. so. great.

    I get you girl. I'm reading more and so.much.more.inspired.encouraged.close.

    love your writing :)

    xo ellie

  38. Amen! And truth be known, I'm not a good Bible reader, either. Heck, up until a year ago I only read fiction. (Scouting the Divine by Margaret Feinberg changed that). Thanks for your honesty and the motivations!

  39. Not to be all dramatic, but girl, I stand convicted. I saved this post to read when I could concentrate (a skimming told me it was a deep one). I admire all your posts, deep or silly, they all ring so TRUE. I think we would be friends if we knew each other, except I would be all shy and star-struck if I met you. I enjoy reading the Bible when i do it, which makes it worse that I am so bad at it! I did the "read the Bible chronologically" and that was tough. Let's face it, parts of the old Testament make me want to poke my eyeballs out - not only dreary but pages of minute details that are less than fascinating (no fair, most of the cool kid Bible stories were Old and it's like seeing all the funny parts of a movie in the trailer...). Anyway. thanks again for expressing my thoughts, just waaaay better!

  40. wait, aren't you 36? or did you not start until age 1? didn't we decently have this confusing discussion? love you!

    1. Lovey, I wrote this two years ago and just re-posted today on Twitter. haha!