Welcome to the 5th interview in our Dwelling Richly series! Today’s interview is with Christine Hoover, a pastor’s wife, mom to 3 boys, speaker, and author. I first “met” Christine via her blog and was especially blessed by this post for writers.
I asked Christine to be a part of this series because her love for God and dedication to the Gospel is so evident in all she writes. I know you will be encouraged by this interview just as I have been!
I get up at 6 am every morning (except for one morning a week), pour a cup of coffee, and sit down on the couch to read my Bible and to journal. I read through books of the Bible one at a time, and I do everything from outlines to writing notes on the passage to writing out my prayers.
This has become a consistent necessity in my life, but for many of my adult years, studying my Bible was neither consistent nor a felt necessity. I wanted to want to do it, but I struggled with motivation and desire. Part of my struggle was that for most of my Christian life, I had approached God and my Bible from a legalistic perspective⎯basically, I checked it off the list of what a “good” Christian does. That kind of perspective really removes any semblance of relationship and joy from Bible reading, so it’s no wonder that I struggled to do it consistently.
Two things changed it all for me. First, I came to understand the gospel more clearly. I learned that I am not practicing spiritual disciplines in order to get something from God, such as His approval or His movement. Because of what Christ has done for me, I’m a loved daughter. I’m practicing spiritual disciplines to make myself available to Him, because I can only hear, know, and understand Him as He reveals Himself to me through His Word. That was the undercurrent of motivation that sparked more consistent time in the Word.
The second thing that altered how I approached Scripture was a trial. I was rocked, and I felt an overwhelming need for an anchor. I knew my anchor was Christ, and as I searched for hope in the Word and consistently found it, I began craving it like I never had before.
This shifting occurred for me when my children were small. I recognized pretty quickly that if I were going to have consistent reading time, I would have to get up earlier than them. This was a huge obstacle for me, because I love my sleep. But a few things helped. One, I invited my husband to get up early with me, and he did. It’s become our routine; we don’t even think twice about it now. Two, I began associating certain things with that time: warm coffee, a special place in the house, cozy slippers, a cute journal and pen. It sounds silly, but sometimes that was what got me out of bed, especially in the winter.
Finally, and this is so important: I trained my children to stay in their rooms until a certain time. Now that they are getting older, they are invited to join my husband and me in the living room for quiet Bible reading if they want, but otherwise they remain in their room, and I know I’ll have an hour of uninterrupted study time every day.
Just by doing it. Over time, I’ve seen the fruit in my life of consistently studying God’s Word, so when I’m tempted to do it just for the sake of doing it or it is growing stale, I recall the many benefits it brings to the believer’s life. The fruit of reading Scripture is not immediate, but Psalm 1 tells us that a person who consistently meditates on Scripture will be like a tree planted by rivers of water that brings forth fruit in its season. I don’t want to give up. I don’t want to neglect what can produce that kind of fruit.
I think reading the Bible is often like a training drill, like a practice run for faith. For instance, we read often in Scripture about trials and suffering. We’re told how to respond when it comes. Reading Scripture is preparation in advance, storing up for what we need later. The fruit of studying Scripture is that our hearts and minds immediately go to its truth when suffering actually comes.
There are many, many times when I read Scripture and finish without a personal application or a sense of having heard from the Lord. There are periods of time when He seems silent. There are also times when I’m reading a specific book of the Bible and I either have no idea what’s going on or I am struggling to connect with it. Those all feel like dry times to me. Most of the time, I just continue doing what I’m doing. I think of opening my Bible as opening a door to God. It’s saying to Him, “Here I am. I’m submitting myself to You by submitting myself to the Word. Do with me what You want.” My job isn’t to “feel” something or try to force God’s hand. I don’t have to be afraid that I’m not going to hear or that I’m missing something. My role is simply to be faithful to open that door.
Many years ago, I heard Louie Giglio say that if you don’t know where to start, start in the Psalms. Read one per day and, in reading that Psalm, look for the character and nature of God. For example, God is our refuge. He said once you find that characteristic, think about it. What does it mean that God is our refuge? Finally, talk to God Himself about that characteristic. Thank Him for it. Ask Him to show you how He is like that in your life. Louie’s perspective helped me understand that Bible reading is not about me but it’s about knowing God.
I also love Jen Wilkin’s resources for studying the Bible. She has a fabulous book out about how to study Scripture called Women of the Word, but my favorite resources of hers are her Bible studies that she has made available online. I’ve done several of them and they have been so helpful in helping me dig into Scripture.
Memorizing Scripture is another one of those spiritual disciplines that is difficult to consistently practice but once you do, you see such benefit and fruit in your life. I highly recommend checking out Dr. Andrew Davis’ plan for extended Scripture memory. I’ve used his method to memorize large chunks of Scripture. It’s not as difficult as it sounds; the most difficult part is committing to it and making it a habit.
The most helpful tools for me with Scripture memorization are accountability and choosing the right time to work on it. If someone is memorizing alongside me and will check in with me, that’s always been a great motivator. But I also have found that there are chunks in my days that are perfect for memory work and would otherwise be wasted. For me, those times are when I’m getting ready in the morning and the time when I’m driving to get my kids from school each afternoon. I make it a habit to use those times for Scripture memory.
Christine, thank you so much for sharing your heart & time with us! What a blessing to read your words of truth that have been born out of your relationship with God.
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