In the summer of 1974 I began receiving letters from a girl in New York. I was living in Maryland and I didn’t realize it then, but those letters taught me something very important about the Bible. At the time, I just wanted to keep them a secret.
I was a maintenance man that summer at a girl’s camp. Part of my responsibility was to supervise a group of teenaged boys who worked in the kitchen and helped me with odd jobs around the camp. They were “girl crazy” to say the least. I spent all summer trying to keep them focused on work and studying the Bible. I don’t think I was very successful.
But that’s why I kept the letters I was receiving a secret. They were from Carol, the girl I would marry three years later. I didn’t want the boys to taunt me, “You tell us not to think so much about girls, but look at you!”
The truth is, I loved getting those letters. I loved when the envelope was thick, which meant there were many pages inside. I loved the small, careful handwriting. I loved to read the descriptions of what was happening in New York. On the outside, I was a maintenance man trying to coach some boys towards “the better angels of the nature.” On the inside, my heart was alive and drawing closer to my future wife.
Whenever I think of those letters I wonder, “What made them so exciting to me?” Was it the number of pages, the style of writing, or even the events they described? Yes, that was all part of it. But the most exiting thing was that somewhere, far, far away, there was a beautiful girl with long brown hair who loved a tall lanky boy like me. What made the letters come alive was the person on the other end.
And that’s how they taught me something about Bible reading. Too often, we take an intellectual approach to the Bible. We think that studying more and more will somehow make God’s Word come alive. Of course, it’s valuable to gain Bible knowledge and to learn biblical truth. But the most exciting thing about reading the Bible is to gain a deeper relationship with the Person behind it. I call it “relational Bible reading,” and I believe it’s the active ingredient in a healthy devotional life.
Do you want to make your Bible reading come alive? Then approach it as if it were a letter from God. And as you read, remember that your goal is not to just to study a book; it’s to develop a lifetime relationship with the One who loves you more than you could ever think or imagine.