“It’s just not for me, I guess,” she said, shaking her head with resignation. The words fell from her mouth with a splat; they were deflated and her heart was fit to match. Between us sat an open Bible, a well-worn dictionary, two pens, and plenty of scratch paper. We were working through the Text verse-by-verse, learning our way to effective interpretation through a mess of underlining, highlighting, and circling. The past hour had proven difficult to be sure, and as we hit yet another word that required the dictionary, she was waiving her white flag.
This conversation was not unique. Over at The Rooted Home we have recently started an exegetical Bible study through the book of Jonah, and we’re starting our study by doing a Book Overview (looking into the cultural setting, historical context, author, date of the writing, etc.). And this group of Bible students is working hard, and I couldn’t be more proud. But when others hear what we’re doing, they’re often surprised; when I ask them to join, the response has become common:
I can’t do it. I guess I’m just a devotional kind of person.
I don’t have the time to learn how to do this. Are there any good studies you’d recommend instead?
This is a lot harder than I expected; I just don’t know if I’m smart enough.
The refrain has become common and even unsurprising. And here is what I want to say to each and every Christian who has said, felt, admitted, confessed, or thought these things (including myself): you can do hard things.
I’m not saying that Bible study is easy. I’m not saying that it doesn’t require a learning curve or a good amount of time and effort. I don’t believe that it comes easily to most, and my personal experience says that it takes a lot of persistence and practice. Studying the Bible is not necessarily and easy task, but … you can do hard things.
Yes, a pre-packaged Bible study is easier, but on its own it is not your daily bread. Others can do the work of studying and re-framing the truths of God’s Word for you, but you’ll then miss the rich and rewarding work of spending time in the Word for yourself. I know there are a plethora of blogs and Instagram accounts that make the Word of God seem like a quick pick-me-up, and a short fix. Yes, that would be much easier. But, you can do hard things.
Will it require early mornings? Maybe. Will it require you to focus during nap time while there’s a little quiet? Probably. It will take your time – your sparse, limited, free time. And you will have to push back other intruding demands on your time, and this will take hard and persistent work. And, you can do hard things.
I find this mindset is much more prevalent among women. It is easy for women in our Pinterest culture to conceive that Biblical womanhood is solely about cultivating a trendy home and finding the quickest and cheapest slow cooker recipe. But when we only look around us for examples of Biblical womanhood, we fail to look back – back to the women of the Bible who did hard things and blazed a trail for us to follow.
1 Samuel 25 – Abigail, the wife of a wicked husband, saved her family from the fury of the nation’s leader, David, by extending biblical hospitality that her husband neglected.
2 Kings 22 – Huldah studied and interpreted the Word of God before the leaders of the nations. When the kings had failed to remember God’s words – having lost the Scriptures themselves – Huldah taught them the ways of God again.
Judges 4 -Deborah led the nation of Israel, exercising her discernment and wisdom and leadership over the people of God. She led the nation into battle as God led, and she spoke as a prophet to the people on behalf of God Himself.
Esther 1 – Esther, the orphaned daughter of Jewish parents, exercised courage and wisdom as she outsmarted an enemy of her people, and saved her people from national destruction.
Luke 2 – Mary, a teen, virgin girl, believed the words of the Lord when it was told her that she would mother the Messiah. With great courage she birthed the Son of God among stable animals, and placed Him in a feeding trough.
Matthew 27:56 – Mary Madeline followed Jesus as a disciple. Defying the cultural mandates on women in her day she learned from Jesus and followed Him throughout His earthly ministry.
We will all need help, we will all need others to teach us along the way, but each and every one of us can do it. We are in good company with the women of faith in our spiritual lineages – those who did not turn back at the first sign of difficulty, but pressed into the challenge to the glory of God.
Like them, our God has graciously equipped us with sharp minds, teachable hearts, and the will power to form our loves around His Word. It might seem like a resolution that will fade away in the coming weeks, but you and I can do the hard work of pressing through, pressing on, and persistently coming to God’s Word as His students.
As you start this new year, don’t be more easily convinced by convenience. You – yes, you – can.
So, will you? Will you join me? Will you make 2020 the year that we dig into God’s Word together? By God’s grace, embrace this truth: we can, and we will.