Being a computer geek makes it hard to read the bible. Actually that isn’t necessarily fair, it may be that the problem applies to everyone in our high paced, technology driven world. You see technology actually has shifted the way our brains interact with information. Today we can consume more data in 15 minutes than someone might have consumed in a month a hundred years ago. If you quickly stop and think about what your brain is doing when it is on the internet, you will see what I mean. Every time you open a web browser you have an agenda. You are searching for information, solutions, or products. The challenge is the fact that every search you do produces thousands of results, maybe even tens of thousands. If you use the internet, often you have acquired a skill that you may not even be aware of, the skill of skimming. You click on a search result, and within about 10 seconds you decide if the web site before you is going to be a good source to meet your need. If it isn’t you back up to the list of results and try again. The average person makes a snap decision about a new web site in seconds.
Before I continue, don’t get the impression that I am anti technology. Technology can be and is proving to be one of the fastest methods of advancing the gospel today. Thousands of people each day meet Jesus because of an interaction with the gospel that they found on a piece of technology. Actually, the invention of the printing press (also a piece of technology in its day) was used by God to advance his kingdom in ways we don’t often think about. Technology isn’t evil in and of itself.
So why am I telling you this and what does it have to do with the bible? I have noticed a few things about myself over the past few years. It has become increasingly difficult for me to sit down to read the bible. At first I couldn’t put my finger on the problem, but God has been reteaching me how to interact with His word. One of the side effects of interacting with technology all the time is the pace at which my mind moves. My brain jumps from subject to subject very quickly. It is VERY difficult for me to focus on a single piece of written text for a long period of time. I have trained my brain to interact with MASSIVE amounts of data on a very shallow level. That is not helpful when reading the bible. I want to give you a few tools that have helped me begin to overcome the negative side effects being a technology brained individual. I promise I’ll make this quick.
The theme of all these tips is SLOW DOWN. One of the most helpful things I have discovered to help my brain slow down is writing. If I journal or blog about my bible study, it forces my brain to slow down and truly make connections that are logical. If I don’t write about what I am reading, I revert to my web reading style. If I don’t write I read a passage and my brain says, “do I understand that? Yes, okay move on. Oh that’s a cool point, Next, Next, Next…” You get the idea. I never slow down to really consume or meditate on the text. When I write I am forced to complete a thought; I am forced to wrestle with the implications of my first impression of the text. All this helps me consume the text, to eat it like Jesus eludes to in his teaching (Matt. 4:4).
Similarly writing poetry or music helps me. All the same reasons apply. I discovered writing of poetry just last year. When I write poems it slows my mind down even more. The need to rhyme and match up word choices forces me to think even more deeply about what I am thinking about. All the poetry I have written thus far are prayers. I wrestle through emotions, texts, and life situations with my God through poems.
Remember Ryan told us in his sermon on scripture that, “the power of the bible is in know Jesus, not in gathering information.” With that in mind, I’ll offer a few more suggestion before I get lost and write all day. When you interact with scripture do it prayerfully. Often when I journal or write poetry it is in prayer form. I’ll ask questions in my writing and often Jesus immediately answers those questions for me, and I continue to write. Finally, you can also write for others. If you are a blogger, it often helps to write for them. Tell your mysterious blog readers what you are learning about a passage. This often helps you organize your ideas in even more detail because they need to make sense to others. If you don’t blog, maybe write something to teach your kids. Taking ideas down to a child’s level can help you find the most basic ideas and cling to them. I have gone through a season where I blogged more than others. One of the primary reasons I blog is for my own growth. The process helps me process.
I hope these ideas help you read your bibles well. Don’t forget that God loves you and He longs for a deep relationship with you. Ask Him to help you make sense of things. Ask lots of questions of Him and give Him a chance to answer you. Now, go enjoy your God through his word.