As a mom, I have banned the use of the phrase “I’m bored” in our home. If you use these words, you are likely to find yourself folding laundry, vacuuming, or making beds. One of the main reasons that phrase is no longer allowed is because boredom easily becomes a habit. It becomes a rut that the kids slip into again and again. Recently, I realized that I can fall into this same boredom rut when it comes to reading the Bible. How is that? Sometimes it can be hard to even stay awake. Yet, I know there is fruit to be found in studying the Word.
Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “…the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword…it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” I have experienced this living and active Word in my own life. When I was a child, I was often afraid of the dark. I had a very vivid imagination and would be so terrified that I was paralyzed with fear. God’s word came to me even then. I had memorized Isaiah 41:10, and laying there in the dark, I would start to say the words out loud, “Do not fear for I am with you.” God’s word would comfort me like a blanket, and I would be able to relax and fall asleep. As I grew, the dark no longer held the same power to paralyze me, but there were other anxieties that would. I remembered how powerful God’s word was, and I would pour over it, choosing verses to write down and memorize to combat my own anxiety. Today, I pour over God’s word looking for guidance as a parent. So, I know that God’s word is powerful and active, and yet, even still there are times when it dries up for me. This is where obedience kicks in.
The Bible encourages us to hide God’s word in our hearts: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11) We must get out of the rut of boredom in obedience, knowing that there is fruit in the word, knowing that “the word of the Lord is flawless…” (2 Samuel 22:31), knowing that “my word…will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire…” (Isaiah 55:11). I have found that in order to get out of the rut of boredom, I must examine what the underlying issue is. For myself, I have found that there are three such issues: lack of understanding, lack of conversation with God, and lack of faithfulness on my part to live out the Word.
I know from teaching my own children how to read that, when there is something we do not understand, it can often seem boring. That is why a child will often say a book that is too hard for them is “boring.” It can be the same with the Bible. There are many texts and passages that are confusing and hard to understand. Digging deeper, looking at the footnotes, reading different versions, all this can help us understand the Bible better. When we grow in our understanding of the Word, we are able to get out of the rut of boredom.
In college one of my professors gave us over 300 pages of reading from a Tuesday to a Thursday. It was overwhelming, and I ended up merely skimming most of the book, getting very little out of it. It was boring because there was too much; it was too vast. Studying the Bible can be this way too. However, it is important to remember that the Bible is not a textbook; it is God’s Word. One of the ways God speaks to us is through His word. When afraid, anxious, or joyful, Bible verses come to my mind. God communicates His love and peace to us through His word. In turn, we can pray Bible verses back to God, reminding Him of His promises. I have specific Bible verses that I pray for each of my children, for my husband, for my sister, and so forth. When we use the Bible to guide our conversation with God, we are not looking at the Bible as merely a humongous book that we need to “get through” once a year, rather, we look at little sections, praying, meditating, conversing with God. Any time we are using the Bible to know God, we are able to get out of the rut of boredom.
My son is incredibly determined and single-minded. When I find myself trying to instruct him or help him do something different than how he is doing it, I must make sure he is looking at me as I explain. However, despite this, he often goes back to doggedly doing it his way. The Bible is God’s way of instructing and helping us do life differently, and we often behave like my son. We sit quietly like we are listening, and then go back to doing life just the way we were doing it before. We read the Word, set it aside, and do not do what it says. The Bible is not merely a study book to be examined and memorized and set aside; it is the living Word to be used, to be tried out in real life. “Love your neighbor as yourself” sounds great, but are we putting it into practice? Have we helped our neighbors recently? Have we taken care of the least and neglected? As James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” When we put into practice what the Bible says, it becomes real to us and we crave more. We need it for encouragement, reassurance, and reference. Becoming doers of God’s word and not merely readers of it helps get us out of the rut of boredom.
We can allow boredom to become a rut in our Christian faith, especially when it comes to reading the Bible. We slouch and moan and roam about, just like my kids, saying “I’m bored.” But, once we recognize the rut, we can use it as an opportunity to examine our hearts, to see if we are understanding the Bible, to see if we are talking with God, and to see if we are living out what the Bible says. Navigating the rut of boredom requires recognizing it as a rut and not allowing ourselves to wallow in it.