Growing up I was always told to read the Bible, which I had to with my parents, for church and in private school. I knew most of the Bible stories and memorized so many scriptures, some that I still remember to this day. I didn’t truly understand what it all meant though, I just did it. I knew God loved me though. After my parents divorce, I became a prodigal when I was 19 years old and stopped going to church to live my life for me. Then in my later adult years I was told by friends on my Haiti mission trip to start reading the Bible. I flat out told them, “No. I don’t feel like it.” So a friend, who met me where I was at in my brokenness, gave me a Jesus Calling book, by Sarah Young. A daily devotional with scriptures listed on the bottom of the pages. This was simple and easier to understand and relate to, so I enjoyed reading it everyday. It gave me some hope and positivity. I never really wanted to read the bible because I never understood it when I read it. When I did read it I looked for answers for my life situations. It was always about, “How will this benefit ME” and crying out to God to change things in my life. It was never about “Who really is GOD and how can I know Him more.” No one ever explained to me exactly WHY I should read it. Just, “read it”. Sure, there’s a bunch of great miracle stories and it’s the Word of God, but that never explained to me WHY do I need to know this stuff. I believe in God, isn’t that enough? I’m more of a “why” girl… not a “tell me what to do” girl. This stems from years of controlling and abusive relationships. I would always say with defense, “don’t tell me what to do.” I still struggle with this at times with men. God is still healing me and making me more humble.
Things started to shift in my heart after seven years of seeking answers as to WHY I was sick from breast implants. I started going to church again with my husband and my dad to “get closer to God” and thinking, “I know prayer works and maybe He’ll help me if I beg enough for help”. God eventually led me to the answer in a random email. I finally made the decision to remove the toxic bags that were destroying me, physically, emotionally and mentally, from my body in January of 2013. That year was rough with identity issues after that major surgery. It took a toll on my marriage even more than what was already going on. My heart made more shifts after my divorce, December 2013, two Haiti mission trips, 2014 and 2015, and the passing of my Grandma, March 2016. In April of 2016, I was so frustrated with my life. I felt like I kept going through cycles of working hard and going nowhere, superficial relationships, putting on a happy face and feeling depressed all of the time. I thought that was, “just how life was supposed to be.” So I started going to a new church with my dad. A series of events started to happen and I could see God slowly working in my life differently. Little by little… I call them God winks. I do not believe in coincidences anymore.
My entire heart and life has COMPLETELY changed since I made the decision to pursue Jesus when I stepped out of my comfort zone and moved to Texas, December 2016. I knew God was calling me to move there and without knowing WHY, I did it anyways. I took a leap of faith, donated a lot of my things, packed my Jeep and drove there to start following Jesus. I was open to what He had for me, whatever that looked like. I had FAITH. I decided to be ALL IN. I’m so thankful I’m a different person, inside and out now. Freedom from a hurtful past. I got plugged into a church and was surrounded by amazing community to help me grow my RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST. I didn’t even know you could have a relationship with Jesus. I was soaking everything up from church sermons, seminars, recovery group, a STEPS program for deeper inner healing, I taught Sunday School for three months, was accepted into a year long theology program (theology is the study of God) through my church and began really listening to Christian music. My life was changing and felt less empty. I was filling my mind with ALL things from above, not like I used to do with yoga and “positive mantras” that meant nothing deep except being focused on self and plain positivity. That “good vibes and positivity” worldly view still left me empty and in the same cycle of no real hope. There’s a big difference folks. GOD is where your focus should be and Jesus will make you a new creation when you confess that He is your Lord and Savior and ask Him to forgive you from your sins. I began reading my Bible more, but it wasn’t until about a year ago, January 2018, when a pastor in Dallas, Texas spoke on WHY we should read the Bible. It blew my mind!! Really!? Finally, someone is telling me WHY and it was so profound, yet understandable. Even being in a year long theology program the previous year didn’t get me to WANT to read my Bible. I did it because I had to. I’m being real here with you because this is the honest truth. So this pastor at a different church in Dallas, challenged us, the church, to a #135 reading plan, which I’m going to share with you here…
1 Proverb a day: “practical wisdom. One chapter a day will get you through the book in a month.”
3 Psalms a day: “it gets your heart engaged. it captures every emotion.”
5 chapters a day: “Depth. Choose the same 5 chapters from the New Testament. Hammer those chapters the entire month. You’ll start to see WHY the author wrote what he wrote.”
He said that he wanted us to get hungry for God’s Word. That it’s LIVING AND ACTIVE. I thought, “YES! I can do this. I want to know more about what makes it living and active.” He said it takes lifetime to study the Bible and may seem overwhelming, but he wanted to HELP us approach it. That when reading God’s Word the Holy Spirit will highlight things and we should stop and pray and ask Him WHY it is tugging on our heart. THIS WAS EVERY BIT TRUE for me as I started this plan and to this day. Psalms and Proverbs are very poetic books of the Bible, and as a writer and poet, I thought WHY didn’t I want to read these before!? Such truth and how to pray to God. How He loves us unconditionally. WHY didn’t anyone tell me it was this good!? I feel like I missed out my entire life. I suggest that you get a STUDY BIBLE the ESV version. It has study notes on the bottom that explains what each verse means. I was always afraid to mark up my Bible with highlighter or pen because I was such a perfectionist before. You should see it now! All marked up with notes, highlights and pen markings when He speaks to me.
Oh sweet friends! You HAVE to follow Jesus and read God’s Word. It is the best decision I’ve ever made in my entire life. He truly guides my every step, every day. I pray and talk to Him everyday before my feet touch the floor from my bed. I pray and talk to Him all day long as if He was physically right next to me. I don’t care if I look like a crazy person talking to myself. He’s worth my time. He provides EVERYTHING I need. I still follow this Bible reading plan, now a year later. I’ll admit the only thing I slack on now is reading the 5 chapters a day. I never miss a day with Psalms and Proverbs though. It is SO COOL to see when I read them over each month, what I highlighted, underlined or notes in the margins from the previous months. God shows me something about WHO He IS every single time. He is loving, forgiving, merciful, gracious, caring, PATIENT, and He calls us HIS children. He is your Heavenly Father who loves you so ridiculously much that He sent His ONLY SON to die for you… so that you can ask for forgiveness from your sins, turn from your old ways to follow His commandments and have eternal life through Him. I have had rules and control over me my entire life and hated every single bit of it because I’m not a rule follower. Again, it mainly has to do with my past abusive relationships and me being a creative person. God’s commandments and rules have been the only ones that I have WANTED to follow… and they are against the world’s view so it’s actually harder to follow at times. But He’s WORTH IT. I’m sure some people think I’m a crazy Jesus freak, judgmental or condemning, but that’s so far from the truth. I shout Jesus from the roof tops because of how much He saved me from and what He continues to do in my life. Such FREEDOM in my soul. He gives me my breath EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. No yoga class or Buddha man has ever done that. God is AWESOME and loves us unconditionally, even when we screw up! We can ask for forgiveness and He forgives. God knows YOU by name. He created you. Everything you’ve been through, He knows. He wants you to call on Him for everything and have a relationship with Him. He loves you unconditionally and that will never change because He always remains the same.
My RELATIONSHIP with Jesus has become deeper, more rich and fulfilling by reading His living and active Word, the Bible. He has given me SO MUCH JOY even on my dark days. Yes, I still struggle with depression, but He has me in His hands. I fully trust Him to grow me spiritually during those times to heal more. Those days make me call upon His name to be closer to Him. He gives me life! He completes me. -trw