“I know what you have done and that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were either one or the other! But you’re stale. You’re stagnant. And since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I intend to spit you out of my mouth”…All those whom I love I will correct. Therefore, shake off your complacency and repent. (God). Revelation 3:15-17
This morning I woke up thinking today would be a great morning to start my “Healthy Lifestyle” plan. After all, it’s Monday, and everyone knows you always start your diet and exercise plan on a Monday. But when I woke up, it was pouring rain so I couldn’t go for a run. Then, because I was feeling cold and the weather was miserable, I had to have a hot chocolate. With full cream milk. And sugar. Oh, and some biscuits (cookies) on the side. So you know what that means don’t you? I’ll have to wait until next Monday before I start again!
The other thing I did when I woke up this morning was turn on my phone, just as I do first thing every morning. After all, something important might have happened while I slept! Someone might have commented on my latest blog post, or liked a photo I posted the night before. There might be some cute picture or profound words of wisdom to share. There might be incredible pictures to view on Instagram, or someone might have sent me an important text message or even re-tweeted something I said!
Usually the notifications are not important or life-changing but this morning was different.
Firstly, a very good friend posted the following comment on my FB timeline (which I will paraphrase otherwise it won’t made contextual sense): “Nic, I want to show my respect and admiration to you. You get my first vote for your authenticity, boldness, perseverance and clarity of voice.”
Let’s just say I was very touched by his kind words. As I said, he’s been a very good friend for over 25 years so he knows how to speak my “Love Language“! I was also a little bit speechless. (Haha, so much for my “clarity of voice”!) Because I’m a “words of affirmation” kind of girl, I read his comment over and over again to let it sink in. Clarity of voice. Boldness. Authenticity. Perseverance.
Hmmmm, perhaps my friend doesn’t know me as well as he thinks! I am good at starting things, but I struggle to finish them. I don’t have trouble with getting started. I have trouble persevering. Whether it’s persevering through the rain and choosing to go running. Whether it’s persevering and choosing fruit over chocolate (seriously, do I have to?). Whenever it comes to persevering…well, let’s just say I’m not always good at finishing what I start.
So, being the authentic, bold “voice” that (apparently) I am, I have a confession to make. I struggle to persevere with reading the Bible. I’m not just talking about struggling to read through the Bible in a year or struggling to read a chapter a day. Or a Psalm a day. I struggle to read the Bible. Full stop. I have lost count of how many devotional-type books I have started. I literally have bookcases filled with books about God that I purchased because of their impacting titles (or interesting-looking cover picture). I have started so many of these books and never finished them. I have started reading the Bible in Genesis. I have started reading from the Gospels. I have started reading Psalms. I just never finish. I don’t take my time and “dine” on the Word of God ever day. I snack. When I’m hungry.
Let me assure you, just as I want to have a healthy lifestyle and eat good food and exercise every day, I want to read the Bible every day. I regularly get started (on a Monday morning of course) and by Friday I’ve usually already missed at least one day of reading. I am so committed to wanting to read the Bible every day that I am guilty of once (okay maybe twice) buying myself a new translation of the Bible with a cool cover design in the hope that this new version might inspire me to read it. These Bibles remain, mostly unopened and unread, on my bookshelf. Started. But not finished.
I want to make something clear. I believe the Bible is the inspired “God-breathed” Word of God and that its teachings are the final authority of matters of faith (2 Timothy 3:16). I believe it is truth. I believe it brings life to those who read it. But I’m just being honest and transparent and admitting that I struggle to read it every day.
And I don’t think I’m alone with these struggles. After all, if I was the only person who had ever started a diet on Monday morning and had broken the same diet by lunchtime on the same Monday, then Michelle Bridges would be out of a job and millions of people wouldn’t tune into The Biggest Loser TV show each night.
And if I was the only person to struggle reading the Bible, there wouldn’t be so many versions of the Bible to choose from or Bible Reading Plans or Devotional books or books written about Biblical principles.
This morning, in addition to the encouraging words posted on my timeline, I received a notification from one of the many Bible Reading Plan apps on my phone. It was this verse from the book of Revelation. And it literally gave me a revelation! When it comes to reading God’s Word, I am lukewarm. Right now I’m neither hot nor cold. I am not “on fire” for God and neither am I in the place I was in last year when my heart towards Him was “frozen” and I had no desire to follow Him or trust Him. I have become tepid. When it comes to reading God’s Word I lack conviction and enthusiasm. I am indifferent to the power that can be found from what I read. I am complacent.
I want to change. Why? Because I don’t want to be “spit” from God’s mouth? Yes. But it’s more than that. I want to have a daily revelation that I choose to read the Bible because it will show me truth. It will expose my rebellious heart. It will correct my mistakes. It will train me to live God’s way, not my way. It will show me the plans and purposes that God has for me. It will encourage me. It will comfort me. It will uplift me. It will direct my paths.
So I repent. Starting now. And I want to be kept accountable so that I persevere and don’t give up.
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)
“For the Word that God speaks is living and active and full of power making it operative, energizing and effective. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing and penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (our soul) and the immortal life (our spirit) and of the joints and marrow (of the deepest parts of our nature). It exposes and sifts and analyses and judges and discerns the very thoughts and intentions and purposes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)