I’m at work in my new office pondering what I can do better to further my relationship with God. As I am sitting here, I think back to something discussed at the Great Banquet regarding Obstacles to God’s Grace. As the speaker talked about this topic, there are things that jumped out at me–they pointed at me. I know that we all struggle at times in doing things we ought to be doing, but let’s look at how we can overcome those.
I’m not a perfect person by any stretch, but my hope is that in reading these, you may relate and maybe find a way to get closer to God. I pray that you see or seek God through these words.
Obstacle #1: I Don’t Like Reading
Of course, a great way to get closer to God is to read His word. We can read the Bible, commentaries on scripture, or Bible studies on passages, topics, or even people. However, this all requires reading. If you’re like me, reading isn’t the first thing on your mind. If this is you, I urge you to keep reading past this sentence. You can do it!
Throughout school, I HATED reading assignments. I would do all I could to avoid reading if I could. One of the reasons is that I was sooooo slow at it. The speed that my eyes would pass from word to word was quite fast. However, I would get two or three pages in and find that my mind had been wondering. Sure, my eyes were seeing the words, but I wasn’t actually reading. I would have to read the same pages over and over again (especially if it was a particularly long reading assignment). I would get the Cliffs Notes versions of stories so that I could get an understanding, and use that to supplement my reading.
This problem wasn’t just present in academic reading, though. My high school sweetheart started me out on the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time series, which are all THICK books. The first book had over 800 pages in it. When I started the books, there were 10 or 11 books in the series. I eventually got through those 11, but each one seemed to take 6 months for me to read. Now, there are 14 books, and I’m still on book 13—for the past 4 years.
This carried through once I became a Christian and started reading the Left Behind series. This was different. I was more focused on the topic because it was an interpretation (albeit fictional) of the last days. The prophetic books fascinate me a lot (my late wife and I studied the book of Revelation on a date night). I got through them more quickly, but I still found myself slowing my wife down (who was reading them right behind me). I think I ended up just letting her read the book I was on so she could finish the series and then I was then reading the books after her.
I say all that to say this: with my attention challenges, I still read through the entire Bible twice. Once was page by page, and the other was on audio. Yes! You can listen to the Bible being read! Honestly, this is how I got through a lot of that Robert Jordan series eventually. If you have trouble reading, find a way to do it in chunks. Supplement it with the audio Bible. Youversion has a fantastic way to read and listen at the same time (some translations). Give them a shot! Start with the Bible on Youversion. When you’re ready to move on, check out some audio books or our resource store.
Obstacle #2: I Don’t Have Time!
In today’s busy world, it seems that we all go from activity to activity. We go from bed to breakfast, then from breakfast to work, then from work to home (or kid’s activity, or meetings, or a get-together, or your friend’s Norwex Party). Then from there, we catch the latest episode of our favorite shows and it’s time for bed. Oh, wait! I forgot dinner in there–and groceries, and cleaning the kitchen, and helping with homework, and…). You get the picture. So, when do we find time to study the Bible or devote time to God? (Oh yeah, and working out).
Remember that whole audio book thing I talked about? Well, you can utilize that availability in those in-between times. (What in-between times? Don’t forget about the commute to and from work. That takes away even more time from my day). Is that you with the commute? What a PERFECT time to listen to the audio Bible or Christian audio book. I made it through most of the Bible the 2nd time through while driving an hour one-way to work every day. It was fantastic. I had no
I made it through most of the Bible the 2nd time through while driving an hour one-way to work every day. It was fantastic. I had no kids distracting me. I couldn’t be tempted to get on Facebook or watch that TV show or YouTube video (see my attention issues above). It was just me, the road, and the Bible. If you have a commute, you have a great advantage to those who live close to work. You don’t need extra time (though you can still take extra time) for God’s word. Take advantage of it!
Obstacle #3: I Don’t Understand the Bible
I’ll make this one simple: Just read it. You’ll get to the point where it seems like the Bible is reading you. You will learn things about yourself that you never considered, but you have to just dive in.
Longer answer: there are many translations available. My family was in churches where the King James Version (KJV) was the version that was used. That’s the version with a lot of Thees, Thys, and Thous all through it. Well, that is tough to understand, especially if you are new to God’s word. My first time through, I read the New International Version (NIV). The second time through, it was the New Living Translation (NLT). Right now, I’m reading scripture in a version called The Message (MSG). It has to most up-to-date language but can lose a bit in translation because of that.
Here’s my suggestion: go to Biblegateway.com and start with Genesis 1:1. You can do side-by-side translations with up to 4 translations at once. See which one makes more sense to you and then go with that translation. If you don’t have a Bible, you can then buy one from the resource store or at your local Christian Bookstore.
Speaking of Christian Bookstores…go to one and just look at what’s out there. There is bound to be something that speaks to you. These resources can help you understand the Bible better and how it is applicable today.
Another thing to consider: we are collectively aiming to understand God and the Bible better. This is where Bible studies and small groups come in. Get plugged into a Bible study group or Sunday School. Even weekly church services help with this. Let’s help each other get closer to God.
Wrapping it up
Well, there are more obstacles keeping us from pursuing God. These are my three biggest. What are yours? We’d love to hear from you! Please comment below.