Like many kids growing up in Christian homes around the world, there never seemed to be a time I didn’t know what the Bible was, or when I wasn’t reading it—either by myself, or aloud with my family or fellowship. I still remember the joy I used to feel flipping through the Thomas Kincade King James Version Bible my parents received for Christmas one year or flipping the onion-skin pages to fan my face during hot summer Tuesday nights with our whole fellowship crammed in our living room, learning Scripture together.
Yet as memorable as these moments will always be, it wasn’t until I really began reading the Bible myself, with free rein, that I experienced how life-changing it could truly be.
The first thing that struck me in my young adult years was different versions. I grew up mostly on KJV, NIV, and ESV—not bad versions by any means, but sometimes a little hard for an adolescent to fully grasp the heart of God behind the thees, thous and thereupons. When I started to become aware of other versions, especially the slightly more paraphrased ones that still captured the heart of God but in language that made more immediate sense without having to crack open a companion book, one of the things I realized was how relational God is. I found the gospels especially to be overflowing with these parable stories that just jumped off the page.
Dude, I realized, these things are applicable to me right now. I found similar fresh perspectives and applications in Psalms and Proverbs; though it’s thousands of years old, the Bible contains wisdom that comes to mind in literally almost every single life situation I find myself facing, affording a clear right path to help navigate those predicaments in a way that’s pleasing to God and brings about the best possible outcome!
Reading the Bible also changed my life in that it introduced me to—and honestly continues to unfold for me—the crucial concept of gifts and callings. Before I delved into this topic woven throughout the New Testament, I really felt like my biggest passion—novel-writing—was entirely divorced from my spiritual life. I spent years and years wondering why I felt passionate about something so useless to God, while never manifesting any of the “useful gifts” I saw in my fellowship and ministry family. I’m so thankful God opened my eyes to the many places like Romans, Ephesians, etc. that speak of the callings on our lives that go beyond what we see in a church setting. Understanding these profound passages of Scripture has made me so much more passionate, thoughtful, and intentional about my writing craft and has made me deeply aware of how God is using my voice in the secular novel-writing world to introduce His truths to people who might never have an open ear to hear them otherwise!
Another way reading the Bible has changed my life is how deeply it speaks to real, relevant topics and struggles both by allusion and direct address. Things like dealing with anxiety, managing anger, walking through wildernesses, figuring out what you were made to do, and more…there are spiritual ways of approaching all these realities and they are all just a few of the things I’ve dealt with in my short life thus far. Yet every single place where human wisdom has failed to address these problems—at least in any way that made me feel whole, healed, seen, or taken care of—God’s wisdom and truth found in the pages of the Bible has guided me off the ledge and into a more powerful and profound way of living. While I may not be free of these struggles, I understand them better (what they are, why I have them, where they’re truly rooted) and I’m much better equipped to tackle them each time they rear their heads.
One of the absolute most life-changing things that has come about for me in reading the Bible, though, is that I don’t feel so alone. As a teenager more obsessed with the attention of her peers and being liked than with the truths folded in those Bible pages, I was often engulfed by overwhelming loneliness. I was a broken girl looking for perfect acceptance and love from other broken people—which is a recipe for disaster! It wasn’t until I began to read the Bible more deeply and truly grasp the reality, the perfection, the perfect truth of who Jesus and God are that the loneliness started to peel away.
Now I know that not only have my ancestors in the faith grappled with many of the same struggles I do, but as I grapple with them now, I am not by myself in the arena. Jesus is with me. God is with me. By their loving grace, I never have to go back to that place of lonely desperation again.
These are just a few ways reading the Bible has changed, and continues to change, my life. The amazing thing is this experience is different for everyone! I’ve heard of others who were healed from mental affliction by simply reading Scripture consistently, people who found their purpose in its pages, people who have had some of their most profound questions answered, found new meaning to their very existence, and solved seemingly insurmountable doubts and fears in it. We’re told that “the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12); that means it’s not just print on a page, these are life-giving words that have the power to truly affect us, influence our lives, and be a force for radical change if we’re willing to invest the time reading and ingesting them.
I for one am sure willing to invest in that! Care to join me?