I have come to believe that many women are not reading their Bibles consistently because our imaginations have failed us. We have some idea of what Christian piety looks like, but it is almost always tethered to a particular lifestyle — one we unfortunately don’t have.
When we imagine Bible reading, what we are seeing is something like the life of a scholar. We see uninterrupted focus and commentaries. We see a pastor in his study, where the word is his life’s work. We see someone living at a lake house — no intrusions, complete serenity, perfect coffee. Maybe we see the life of a superwoman, who rises well before dawn because she cares so much more than we ever will be able to. We see calm. We imagine focus. We see heroic diligence.
Simply put, we see the Christian practice of reading the Bible as dependent on a really specialized kind of moment — a moment that seldom (to never) graces our own life.
Limits We Lay on the Word
When we feel guilty or wonder what is wrong with us for never reading the word, we spend all our time trying to create the perfect circumstances wherein Bible reading might flourish, instead of seeing how we can make it happen in this life, with these obstacles. If we’re going to meet with God, we’ll need to get creative.
“I believe many women are not reading their Bibles consistently because our imaginations have failed us.”
A faithful (busy and distracted) mother may think that the only way for her to become a woman of the word would be for her to suddenly be a new person in a new life. In other words, our idea of piety and spiritual discipline simply does not mesh with the life that God has called us to. But these are limits we have placed on the word, not limits God places on us.
Isn’t it simply a lie that tells us our life is not compatible with faithfully reading the word? Why are we so easily kept from such perfect food for our souls?
Useful for Whom?
The apostle Paul says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
Notice that Scripture itself tells us that it is useful in equipping us for every good work, in order that we might be complete. That who might be complete? Just the scholars and pastors and those who possess a very orderly or extraordinarily diligent life? No, not just them! That the believer may be complete. You. The mother of small children, and the one carpooling all the time. The mother who is awakened too early by a hungry infant, and the one who is overwhelmed with small questions and interruptions, who has more on her to-do list than she can ever do. The multitasker with the scattered mental status to prove it.
For some reason, many of us have not bothered to imagine what piety in this kind of life of chaos and interruptions might look like. We still think of Bible reading as a “quiet time.” But what if your life is inescapably loud?
The Inescapably Loud Life
I know my own life, and quiet is not the word for it. Every once in a while, of course, it is — a couch and coffee and quiet time. But if I were waiting for those moments to read the word, I would maybe read a chapter every week and a half. That simply can’t sustain me.
When your life is really busy, and your schedule packed, and the physical demands heavy, would you decide to cut down on food? Maybe once a week I can eat a piece of cheese, but otherwise my life is so crazy there is no time to eat!
“We still think of Bible reading as a ‘quiet time.’ But what if your life is inescapably loud?”
Kids asking suddenly large questions, my phone ringing, the timer on the oven going off, the little one having a problem, time to pick someone up from track, another quick trip to the grocery store. These are the very good works that the word is equipping me for. Why would I think these moments are not worthy of the word? Or that these moments are somehow beneath it — that spiritual food is unnecessary for what is clearly a spiritual marathon?
This is my life. This is my calling. These are my duties. And this is the spiritual food that strengthens me for this life, this calling, and these duties.
My Dream for Women
I would love for every woman to be able to imagine another kind of piety because we have seen it in action. Women who are singing psalms while they fold the clothes. Women who are listening to the Bible while they clean bathrooms or vacuum. Women who are talking about what they just noticed in the word to the kids in the back of the car, snatching a second to read another chapter while waiting in a parking lot. Women whose hands are so very full of good works for which they are perfectly equipped because they are being fueled by the good word, however hastily eaten.
What would the world look like if all those women, whose hands are in so many places doing so much good, were thoroughly equipped by the power of the word? What if we got over our ideas of what piety looks like and realized that it certainly includes our callings too?
Praying for a Super Bloom
Paul says, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20–21).
Every once in a while in a desert climate, there is an unusually wet spring and the whole desert erupts in bloom — it’s called a super bloom. It is a stunning phenomenon. The seeds that have always been there, dry and dormant, suddenly responding to the unexpected moisture in life and color and joy. Desert hills suddenly covered in purple, orange, yellow.
That is my hope and prayer: that as Christian women pursue faithful reading of the word in our normal lives, finding all the unexpected ways to get it done no matter our surroundings and the apparent obstacles, we will see a super bloom of godly women. Women who are so saturated in the word that all over the usually barren landscape we will see the gospel blossoming. Gospel living fed by gospel water, in the lives of women whose hands are in everything.
As we get creative in our Bible reading, God will pour out his Spirit to help us live and thrive and mother in ways we have not yet imagined.