On July 28, 2000 I gave birth to a beautiful little girl named Kayla. It was a scheduled c-section for several reasons, and it just happened to be Kathie Lee Gifford’s very last day on “Live With Regis and Kathie Lee.” Random, I know, but the show was playing on the TV in the surgery prep room, and my OB/GYN, Dr. Elliot Greenberg, joked about what a landmark day he’d chosen for the birth of my third child. We don’t celebrate Kathie Lee on Kayla’s birthday, but now I’ll forever know how many years she’s been retired from her show with Regis.
(By the way, Dr. Elliot Greenberg at Baystate OB/GYN is awesome.)
Little Kayla had to spend some time in the NICU due to gurgly breathing and fluid that didn’t get properly pushed out of her lungs, but when I finally got her back into my room, I requested an appointment with the lactation consultant. Initially, my nurse said yes to booking an appointment for later that day, but then she reviewed my chart, saw that I’d birthed and breastfed two other babies, and suggested that I didn’t need any help with lactation.
But I really did. Though I’d done it for six months with each of my two boys, I never felt like I was doing it quite right. Not only that, but I wanted to nurse this little girl longer than six months, and I was in need of some expert “how-to’s.”
I love how-to’s.
How to train for a half marathon.
How to better manage time.
How to make buttercream icing.
How to say good morning in Greek.
How to get the pinwheel to stop spinning on my Macbook Pro.
How to best pack a suitcase.
Anyway, that’s a very long introduction to this post, but I’ve been thinking that I didn’t really explain, in my last post, how God’s Word made me well. How did it work? What were the steps?
We have to eat it.
Just like actual food, we have to sit down and partake of it regularly. We need everything from a quick breakfast to a four course dinner. Better yet, and I think the argument can be made from Scripture for the exact opposite: a four course breakfast and a late night snack. (See here, here, here, and here!) Either way, we’ve got to ingest and digest it regularly. Just like food to our physical bodies, the nourishing Word makes us well.
So how do you eat it?
It sounds so simple, but the answer is that we’ve got to read it.
And can I say very gently here that Jesus Calling does not count? Nor does My Utmost For His Highest, or Streams in the Desert. And just so I’m stepping on everyone’s toes here, neither do Morning and Evening or Valley of Vision.
Many of those devotional readers are both encouraging and edifying – protein packed snacks that will carry you through the afternoon with your cup of coffee, or send you off to sleep with a satisfied belly. But they just really aren’t a good substitute for reading chunks and chapters and whole books of God’s actual Word.
It would be like eating a Cliff Bar for every meal.
So, how do you read it?
When I was in that season of darkness and despair, I did a couple of things. I read two chapters of the Old Testament and two chapters of the New Testament every day. Depending on how fast you read (and how long those chapters are), it could take as little as 15 minutes or as many as 40. (At that rate you could read the whole thing in a year. Remember this?)
The other thing I did was work through two different Bible study workbooks, both written by Beth Moore: Esther and Living Beyond Yourself. Not at the same time. Just slowly doing a page or two a day until I finished one, and then starting the next one.
And here’s what happened: Since God’s Word is living and active, the chapters I read were relevant to my despair. They taught me something about my situation. They encouraged me that I was not alone. Not only that, but the Scripture I read in say, I Samuel, would often correspond to the Scripture I was reading in Colossians or some other New Testament book. A handful of times, the exact same phrase or principle would be used in both. Occasionally, my workbooks would have me reading some text I had just read in my own Bible ready.
This is how God speaks. This is how He heals. This is how He encourages and nourishes us toward wellness.
Remember Isaiah 55:10-11? It’s a guarantee. Eat His Word, by reading His Word, and it is not possible that you continue in a sick and stunted state. The sustenance will bring growth and healing and maturity.
I think this verse is really helpful in understanding how the Word heals:
For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
We believe God’s Word is how He speaks to us, how he instructs us, so we persevere in reading it, and the result is hope. That hope is what heals.
And check the context of v. 4. Paul is encouraging Roman believers to serve their neighbors and be strong for those who are weak, and he’s quoting a Psalm of King David for precedent. In essence, he’s saying, Got a problem? Need some wisdom? Think you’re the only one to ever face this situation? Nope. Check the Scriptures. David struggled with the same thing and came to a conclusion that I really want you to learn from.
One caveat, though: We can’t just check the “read the Bible” box in our bullet journals and mental to-do lists.
Oh, Isaiah 55 will still hold true on some level, but there’s one more “how-to” required, and I think Psalm 1 tells us what that is:
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.
Delight in the Word. Meditate on it day and night. That’s the caveat for truly benefitting from the Word.
Delight in it. Meditate on it all day.
It’s like the advice we often hear on how to eat and enjoy a meal.
Chew 20 times.
Savor the flavors.
Put your fork down after every bite.
I’ve been guilty of shutting my Bible after a morning reading and never once thinking about or re-visiting what I read for the rest of the day. Could that be likened to an eating disorder? Like binging and then unconsciously purging? Because the truths don’t stay in that case. They aren’t properly digested. They neither nourish nor effect wellness.
So, the how of eating?
Read. Meditate. Believe.
I’m still a work in progress on implementing these Bible reading how-to’s. (And please don’t ask about how well I’ve implemented of all I know about time management either) But I’ve come to treasure God’s Word so much via these steps, and He’s granted healing and wholeness in the process.
I ended up having to insist on an appointment with the lactation consultant. While I greatly appreciated the fact that my nurse considered me a seasoned mother, and nursing champ, the truth was that I still needed help. Would you believe that Kayla never took a bottle? Sometime around her first birthday, she transitioned from breastfeeding to a sippy cup, and I was one happy mama. Those lactation how-to’s made all the difference, and it’s my hope that these Bible reading how-to’s will make a difference to you as well.
I’d also love to back these how-to’s up with the gift of a Bible reading tool today. So, leave me a comment here on the blog or on Facebook, and I’ll enter your name into a drawing for either one of the workbooks I mentioned above (Esther or Living Beyond Yourself) or the workbook we used in a women’s small group Bible study this summer – Seamless. Your choice. I’ll tell you who’s name was chosen on Monday.
Happy Bible Eating – and have a wonderful weekend.