I strongly encourage everyone to read “Sacred Rhythms” By Ruth Haley Barton.
Ruth Haley Barton knows exactly how to write a book on Spiritual renewal, and after each chapter, I have been yearning for more of God. I have been longing for Spiritual Renewal that she talks about. This chapter is about scripture. She starts off by talking about how she used to use her Bible time as an intimate time with God. Then somehow over the years her Bible turned into a textbook and it no longer became intimate. It became boring and dull. The feeling of fulfillment went away and she felt dry. She goes on to introduce “Lectio Divina” which is an approach to the scriptures that sets us up to listen for the word of God spoken to us in the present moment. As we allow ourselves to be open and available to God through this practice, the Scriptures will penetrate to our very depths and will show us things about ourselves that we were incapable of knowing on our own. God communicates his love for us in ways that we can hear and experience beyond cognitive knowing. (I want that!) This method is so powerful because it involves silence and the Word. Before reading, you take time to be still and quiet and allow your mind and heart to be open for what God is about to teach you. Then after you read the Scripture, you have a time of silence to reflect about what you have read. This time helps us to be attentive to God in what he will say to us. She then goes on to describe the four movements of Lectio. First there is a time of silence and reading. The second is a time of reflection. Third is our response, and fourth we reread the passage. This is how we encounter an intimate time with God.
The Chapters in this book are amazing and each one of them really hits home. One of the sections in chapter 3 that stuck out to me was the part when Ruth talked about how the Bible became routine, and she was no longer using it for intimate God time.
I have experienced this over the past couple of years—especially after coming to a Christian University. When I was in High School, I was heavily involved in Teen Bible Quizzing. It was my talent. I loved it. I was learning to understand and read the Bible in new ways, and then compete with people about how much I knew about it. This was the first sign of the Bible no longer being intimate time with God. I was using the Bible to learn things, yes, but it wasn’t God time. It was “who can I beat this time?” time. Then I came to College. I expected to dive deep into the scriptures- to have my soul and spirit renewed- to learn and to thirst for scripture, to breathe it. And that’s not what happened. The Bible became a study tool. Not for personal study and deep intellectual thinking—for class, and worst of all, for homework. The Bible became something I didn’t want to read anymore because I had to read it for homework. When I was a youth intern, I was teaching lessons a few times each month, and I found myself having trouble pulling things from the Bible. I was having trouble relating the Bible to life…it’s because I had no longer used it for its intended purpose, I had used it as a study tool and as a competition book.
As I think about this and write this paper, I am getting a little ashamed of myself because I sound like a complete Bible hater, and I am NOT a Bible hater. I just never realized that this was an issue until reading this chapter. I will admit that it was quite hard for me to focus on the rest of the chapter beyond this part as this one section’s self-revelation seemed to slap me in the face quite hard. I don’t want the Bible to be something I dread reading. I don’t want it to be a competition tool or a homework assignment. I want the Bible to be intimate God time. Time where my faith and knowledge Expands. Time where I learn more about who God is and his perfect plans. Time to grow our relationship. Time to learn to trust God fully. Quiet Bible time with Jesus. That’s what I need. Lectio Divina