When I was a child, I’m fairly certain that I associated vegetables with punishment, torture and all things evil in the world. We would have infamous showdowns over broccoli, peas and green beans at the dinner table as my parents would assign the number of bites or pieces I had to consume, and I had no idea what I did so wrong to deserve such treatment. The adults in charge of my health and nourishment would continually remind me that they were good for me and that I would like them when I was older. Their predictions of the future appeared outrageous.
Like vegetables? Are you kidding me???
As parents often are about so many things, they were right.
Eventually, I started choosing to eat vegetables. The 8-year-old girl in me wouldn’t have known what to do with this as she attempted to hide green beans in napkins for years, not learning until college that said vegetables were actually more than an inch-long when not served from a frozen bag.
About that time, as well, I started reading my Bible on my own. I had grown up in the church, was the poster child for youth group and was involved with a campus ministry in college. All in all, people probably assumed I knew what was in this centuries-old book. But I didn’t. I had heard countless talks and sermons on various passages, participated in all the felt-board Sunday school lessons as a little girl and could reference a few verses that were on t-shirts, bookmarks and flyers, but I had never read the Bible all by myself. At least not regularly. Not consistently. Not as regular nourishment for my soul.
So I started to read the Bible. It was more difficult than I wanted to admit. I felt emotions of confusion, frustration and boredom…none of which I wanted to tell to any of my Christian friends because I thought it was terrible to think such things. Looking back, however, it was normal, and I wish I shared my questions and difficulties with others. Perhaps their encouragement, understanding and wisdom could have brought Scripture to life instead of leaving me isolated and wondering what was so wrong that I had this not-so-Sunday-school response to reading the Bible? As with any other new habit, there were some bumps along the road, and that’s OK. God was so gracious and opened up His Word in ways that were exciting and engaging, life-changing and challenging. I loved it so very much. But some days were still more difficult than others, mostly early in the morning. I taped a sticky note on my alarm clock with a verse from the book of Mark about Jesus getting up early to go pray because He needed time with His Father, God, and I decided that if Jesus needed time with God to get through the day and He was Lord, then I probably needed time with God much, much more.
And I did.
I needed the nourishment of God’s word, just like my body needed vegetables. I didn’t know that I needed it until I started consuming it on a daily basis, and, to be completely honest, I didn’t enjoy it until it became a rhythm of life. I didn’t know that it would be come as important to my morning routine as brushing my teeth…until it was.
I wrote a blog called “Dude, read your Bible” a few months ago. I don’t think that this is an optional hobby for Christians. God won’t love you any more or less if you do or don’t do it, but it’s important and can change your life. That’s an assumption.
The thing that shouldn’t be assumed, however, is that it just happens. You don’t accidentally begin the habit or start craving chapters and chapters of text. Similar to how I physically grew up and began to want to eat more vegetables because I liked them, my faith grew and ignited a craving for God’s word.
Yet that still wasn’t enough. My desire, want and curiosity didn’t open the pages and put the words in my mind. I had to sit down, hold the book in my hands and let my eyes dwell on the words in front of me. I had to intentionally choose to carve out time and make it happen. Regularly.
Over a decade later, I am so grateful. The daily nourishment isn’t always my favorite flavor. It isn’t always a large portion. And sometimes, it’s served cold and quickly. Nonetheless, it feeds me. And it’s delicious.