—Keep in mind that you will not understand everything you read. Much of what you encounter will sound strange (wonderfully strange) to you. A young couple new to the Christian faith told my wife that they read the Scripture each morning at breakfast. Whenever they came to something they did not understand, the wife would say to her husband, “Just keep reading.” That’s how it’s done. Take what you understand—you’ll be surprised how accessible most of the Bible is—and leave the rest to later. You will learn more the second reading, and more every time you read the Bible.
—Have a notepad handy. Write down questions that come to mind, insights you wish to remember, verses to memorize and whatever you believe God is saying to you about your specific situation. If outside duties are nagging at you—phone calls you need to return, tasks needing your attention—list them on the notepad and get to them when you finish here.
—I suggest you read a while, then stop and be quiet for a period. Read and wait, wait and read. From time to time, offer up a small prayer: “Help me understand, Father.”
The voice of God is in the Word of God, just as yours or mine is in our word. But God loves to speak into our hearts. I Kings 19:12 calls that “a still small voice,” or “a soft whisper” as one translation puts it.
To hear “soft whispers,” you need to be quiet yourself.
My friend Walter was working on computers in a bank office. At quitting time, the staff turned off their machines and left. Now alone in that large space, Walter realized for the first time that the bank had piped in music in the background. The noise of the machines had drowned it out.
Do you remember this tiny incident from our Lord’s ministry? “Jesus entered (Bethany) and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.’ The Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing (only) is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:38-42).
Listening to the Lord is always the right choice.
There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God. A place where sin cannot molest, near to the heart of God. O Jesus, blest Redeemer, sent from the heart of God—hold us who wait before Thee near to the heart of God.
Post script …
In Luke 6:27, our Lord began His revolutionary teachings on loving our enemy with this opening: “But I say to you who hear.”
Not everyone hears spiritual things. “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit. They are foolishness to him” (I Corinthians 2:14).
I’m hard of hearing.
A couple of years ago, I paid a small fortune for what my doctor called “the Cadillac” of hearing aids. After a few attempts to have them adjusted to my level of hearing—unsuccessful attempts, I might add—I laid them aside and have not used them since. Consequently, my faulty hearing goes forth unabated.
Those of us who do not hear clearly often find ourselves straining to catch what was said. We may ask for it to be repeated. And we might miss some of the conversation.
We who are in this body do groan. We see poorly and we value inadequately and we hear imperfectly.
Let us labor to make ourselves available to the Spirit, to listen closely and to have Him repeat it until we get it.