Morning, New Women. My mind is TEEMING with ideas, places I want to take you in this Whole Christian Thing journey. I had a plan, but then I read your comments and I think, "We need to go with that." That's a good thing. It means you're invested in this, and that's the only way it's really going to mean something, really allow change to happen.
We ARE basially focusing on the big picture -- what's good for you as a Christian right now and what, as REBEKAH put it, "isn't exactly working!" The part of that picture we're focusing on currently is the Bible. I asked you what your relationship to the Scripture was like and many of you equated it to God, which makes sense since the Bible is God's Word to us. It's the Voice we hear, even though, like AZURE said: "Sometimes I want a dream where an angel tells me 'Go do this!' so I would know what to do." The problem with that Voice, that relationship, seems to be this:
* God's a great ruler who cares, but you don't know God that well because you feel small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Why would God want much to do with your "silly, temporal cares" when God has things going on like the ebola epidemic in Africa, Isis threatening to bring on war in the Middle East, another war threatening with Russia and the Ukraine ... the list goes on
* So you admire God from afar. God's someone you know OF but don't actually KNOW.
* Or God IS a friend, but one you haven't been able to get to know very well.
* Which makes you feel like a "lame Christian"
As for the question about how you could improve that relationship with God, thaaaat didn't elicit much response because, as CAITLIN put it, "I literally have no idea." REBEKAH chimed in with, "I really have no idea! I mean, read the bible, go to church, blah blah blah...it's not exactly working!"
That, I firmly believe, is where Christianity has failed you. It isn't your fault that the Bible, and therefore God, seems inaccessible. Have many people on your journey so far done what SOFIA MARIE'S dad did with that whole long, boring genealogy list in Matthew? (If you didn't read Sofia's comment, you might want to go back and do that) Out of that, she was able to see that the list of who begat whom (I was, like, 15 before I even knew what begat MEANT!) told her God used a lot of imperfect women (and men) to accomplish The Plan. That took the pressure off of her to be perfect. Who does that kind of BIble work with you? Anybody?
I'm not saying you haven't experienced some awesome Bible studies -- hopefully you have. But having a relationship with the Bible isn't a one-and-done kind of thing. A regular, cohesive, comprehensive program of walking you through the parts of the Bible that relate to your life RIGHT NOW is essential -- and who gets that?
That, I think, is the first big piece that's missing -- and as RACHEL pointed out in her comment on "Barriers": where is the TIME to do that?
As I said earlier, we're gathering information right now, trying to figure out "What's Wrong With This Picture?" But I can't just say, "Yeah, this is a problem. We'll fix it later." We will work in depth in addressing this distant relationship with the Word. Right now, let me just point some things out to you:
* The Bible is a mammoth book; i's very size can be daunting. But it was meant to be read not only as the story of God's relationship with his people, but as a resource -- this passage for this place where you find yourself, that chapter for another. At this point in your life, don't try to start from the begining and read the whole thing in a year unless you really feel called to do that.
* Read and study what relates to you. That's what I did when I wrote the features for the FaithGirlz Bible. I highlighted the places where a tween girl could take something she read and understand and apply it to the context of her own life. I haven't done a Bible for teens, because there are a number of them out there. Can anyone recommend a teen study Bible for us?
* The Bible is a living, breathing thing. We're meant to be as divinely inspired when we read it as the authors were when they wrote it. The closest I can come to an example of that is the IRL book in the RL series -- Motorcycles, Sushi, and One Strange Book; Boyfriends, Burritos and an Ocean of Trouble; Tournaments, Cocoa and One Wrong Move; Lattes, Limos and My Life On the Fringe. If you haven't read those, let me know and I'll send you a copy or two.
* You need a translation you can understand. I know some churches get behind one or another, but for your personal use, why try to read something that makes absolutely no sense to you? I recommend The Message. Anybody else use a Bible that is easier to understand than the King James Version? (which is beautiful, but, again, what the Sam Hill does 'begat' mean, right?)
* Carve out some time for this friendship with the living word. Here's what a 20-minute session could look like:
1. Pray for God to be a third party to this conversation you're about to have with the BIble. We're all just talkin' here, God.
2. Read a short passage. A couple of verses. For example, this week I'm focusing on Matthew 6:16-18, for the whole week. If you want we can get back to me giving you a weekly passage to ponder on your own here on the blog. (Just the passage -- no commentary) Would that be good?
3. Write in your journal whatever comes to mind after you study it, even if you jot down, "I am still totally confused. Am I ever going to get this?"
Don't expect instant, spectacular results. Eugene Peterson, author of The Messagec calls this "a long obedience in the same direction." This is a journey, not an overnight road trip. And do you know how far along you already ARE on this journey just by showing up here on the blog and wrestling with all this?
If you want to post between now and Monday, answer any of the questions in red above that you want to AND tell us what has made getting close to the Bible so hard in your experience so far as a Christian. We're digging deeper. That's where the answers are.