Wanted: Friends Desperate for God
There are many must-haves in my day to day: Bible reading, prayer, rest, and food to name a few. But among those I would also include Bible-centered community: gathering with others to enjoy God as we see His character in the Word. Before the moving truck arrived at our house in Dallas, I had already been asking God to provide at least 1 friend who would want to study the Bible with me. I knew that thriving in a new city meant finding a community who would join me in exalting Jesus together in the Word. Shortly into our time living here, a new friend came over to my house. Casually, she mentioned a desire to read the Bible more. As the words were leaving her mouth, I knew this was my opportunity! Without hesitation, I boldly and excitedly asked "Do you want to study the Bible together?! We could meet weekly and talk about it together!" Though she was willing, her only problem was her work schedule. The only available time we could meet was 4:30am. It's amazing how quickly sleep takes a backseat when you are desperate for something...
And so it began. Weekly, we met at Ihop around an order of baby cakes and bottomless coffee, with our Bibles cracked open before the crack of dawn. We read 2 chapters a week from the book of Job, and came together to discuss it. We moved from Job to Isaiah, and before we heard Isaiah's transitional proclamation in chapter 40, "Comfort, O comfort My people," a few others had joined our meetings. Eventually, we moved our meetings to 6am at Chickfila (yes they are open that early!) and made our way through the rest of Isaiah and then turned to Hebrews, Revelation and Philippians.
These meetings were a lifeline and a joy. A form of accountability by their very nature, just showing up spurred me on to know God deeper. Undoubtedly, others around the table would see things I never noticed, and just like that, the Bible came alive in a fresh way. As we crossed challenging passages, the Holy Spirit never failed to lead us into all truth as we approached the Word as humble learners. Not every question was answered, but our hearts remained settled with God's gracious character as the centerpiece of discussion.
Are you hungry yet? Does this whet your appetite for a deeper walk with God? For others to walk deeper with you? Grab your Bible, grab a couple friends, and get going! Here are some tips to get you started:
Beggars Can't Be Choosers
The point of these times isn't having the "right" people around you, but just people who are desperate to get to know God more. This means when your ideal Bible study friend isn't willing, or never seems to be available to meet, you move on and ask someone else. Look first at those people you already do life with, but be willing to ask anyone. Though I didn't know her well then, seeing that Liz was willing to get up at 4:30am told me she was as desperate as I was. And that's all I wanted: another soul hungry for God. Don't be too proud keep asking until you find someone who will get up at 4:00am if that's what it takes.
The Word is All you Need
I really believe this. Many people don't feel like they can read the Bible by itself. Used to devotionals and prepackaged studies, reading the Bible "naked" seems intimidating. But I have found that the challenge of this has been where my mind has changed the most. Not understanding what I read forces me to reread the text; it forces me to work for comprehension. This is what changes me. When you settle for studies that pull out all the answers and applications for you, you miss out on one of the best parts of Bible study: a transformed mind.
New information doesn't transform the mind. It just adds more files to the drawer. But wrestling with hard things, working to understand why God said what He said, why He was mad, why that chapter made you so uncomfortable: it is those things that rearrange the file cabinet system entirely. The wrestling transforms the mind. And wrestling is better in community. It gives you a safe place to share confusion, discomfort, and questions.
Read a Book
The Bible was not meant to be studied in verses or chapters. It is a collection of books. So we would do well to read it as it was written. If I write a series of posts on my website, I am expecting you, the reader, to read part 1 before part 2. You show respect to me, the writer, to read what I've written as I intended it to be read. How much more honor should we give the Bible and its Author?
Reading the books of the Bible in order (Genesis - Revelation) is incredibly fruitful, but not necessary. But at a bare minimum, read a book from start to finish. Once you find your friend(s), pick a book of the Bible that you aren't familiar with and haven't studied before. And read 1-2 chapter a week. Read it several times, make notes in a journal of what sticks out to you, what questions you have, and if you did any work to answer those questions. Then come together to discuss your findings and questions. You'll be surprised at the wealth of treasures in the Word of God, when you give them time to shine through.
Prayer and Repentance
We need God's help to understand His ways. We need the work of the Spirit in our Bible reading. Pray for His help and guidance and pray for one another.
The Word of God is meant to expose our need for a Savior, so don't be surprised when your sin is laid bare as you read. When we see God's character more clearly, we see how short we fall from that. This is a good thing, but a hard thing. When the time comes, confess and repent to one another and pray for God's saving work in your hearts in those areas. We cannot fix our brokenness, we need a savior.
What's holding you back? Find a friend or two, pick a book, and get going! Come to the Word with humility and an eagerness to learn. Come to the Bible to know God, not to be a better person. I've created a page to help get you started in knowing God through Bible reading. Check it out here.