It’s been almost 5 years since I was in high school (ew I got old), and there are so many ways that your high school experience is so different than mine. One of the main ways I see this is in the amount of homework that you take home each night. When I was in high school, I would rather pull out my own teeth than do homework for more than an hour at night. I would do everything in my power to get my homework done during class or study halls so that when 3:00pm hit, I could stop thinking about school until 8:00am the next morning. Now, this wasn’t a perfect system. I would procrastinate, do a poor job on homework, or purposefully take classes that wouldn’t have a lot of homework. In a lot of ways, I feel that I am on the opposite side of the spectrum than most of you. Many of you are taking AP or college classes, and working hard on homework for 3-5 hours each night, even after the final bell rings each day.

Many of you are so disciplined in many areas of life. You are disciplined in spending two hours on homework, you are disciplined in spending time with your friends, you are disciplined in catching up on Instagram, or spending at least 30 minutes on Netflix. Some of these things are worthwhile, and even honoring to God. But I want to challenge you a little on this.

For starters, when was the last time you spent more than 30 minutes reading your Bible? I think we are so used to being students of our teachers or professors, that we forget what it looks like to also be a student of the King over everything. Working hard in school is a good thing! In Colossians 3 we are called to do everything as if we are working for the Lord, and our studies are no different. But here’s where the trouble comes in – when we make it an idol. When we put our school work above Jesus, we begin to operate as if school is our god, and it just can’t be. It can’t satisfy us, it can’t save us, it doesn’t affect our eternity, and your chemistry textbook sure as heck didn’t die for you. It is all too easy to find our identity in the successes of this world, and I think we get our first taste of this when we seek excellence in school more than a close relationship with our Father in Heaven.

Don’t read this as me speaking down to you, because I get it! It can be so hard to make reading our Bibles a priority. Even in high school, just because I wasn’t spending my time doing homework, didn’t mean that I spent more time with Jesus. And even now, when I literally work for a church, I’m still learning what it means to prioritize time with Jesus, and how to think rightly about studying the word along with the demands of our everyday lives. But because I have a few more years of this learning process than you all do, here are some things that I think are helpful.

Set realistic expectations for yourself and find your rhythm. Rumor has it that Pastor Tom reads a whole book of the Bible each day. I want you to know that no one expects you to do that! Spending time with Jesus doesn’t always have to look like carving out an hour of quiet time each day (although, that would be amazing and if you have the capacity to do that, go for it!), but it can look like spending the first 15 minutes of your day filling yourself with truth. For me, I’ve found it’s most helpful to go through a devotional each day. My personal favorite is New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp. It gives about a page of really solid truth and then the Bible passage that the truth came from. This is a realistic way for me to get in the Bible and learn a ton through falling more in love with Jesus and applying the truths to my life. Maybe for you it’s picking out one passage or a small chunk of verses and reading it a couple times a day in order to meditate on that passage. There are so many great ways to study the Bible, with the goal being that you are actually reading it consistently.

One of the important parts of Bible reading, is remembering that there is grace for when you fall behind, or don’t prioritize that time in your day for a period of time. I’ve especially seen this when we try to follow Bible reading plans. It’s easy to get behind a few days and grow discouraged and then ultimately give up. Don’t do that! If you are behind a few days, don’t scramble to catch up (because if you’re rushing through reading, you’ll probably forget what you read anyways), but instead just jump back into the current day’s reading and go from there! Trying to catch up can leave you feeling defeated and discouraged, and we want to delight in reading our Bibles.

Be disciplined. Often times when I’ve asked people how their Bible reading is going, they say that they it’s hard for them to read the Bible because they don’t want to do it “just to check it off the list.” Or they don’t want to treat Bible reading as a “chore.” While I agree that spending time with Jesus shouldn’t be done out of obligation, I also don’t think that this is a valid excuse. There are a lot of times where I don’t want to carve out time in my day to read the Bible, but it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t do it. Part of living for Christ is knowing that the best thing that we can do is to fall more in love with our Father in Heaven by reading His words.

Timothy writes, “All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16). This is why we read the Word of God. Not only is it a command made by God, but it is what is best for us. When we say that we are in Christ, we are called to seek Him and grow in our knowledge of Him. The most sure way to do this is by reading the words that He inspired. We also see from this text that the Bible is what strengthens us and instructs us in how we should live our lives as followers of Christ. There is no truer source of wisdom and instruction in this life. It is also just as relevant and critical today as it was thousands of years ago. It was breathed by God and should be viewed as both a love letter to His children, and a guide on how we can be honoring Christ with our lives.

Even when we view the Bible with the right level of importance, it can still be hard to make it a habit. But I promise that the more time you spend reading it, the more your soul will begin to crave the truth and comfort that comes with it.

I can’t say this enough, but we love you guys. And it’s because we want for you to live lives of faith that we share these things. I know that your days are packed, and the pressures of the world can feel like they’re weighing heavy on your schedules. But I would ask that you would trust me when I say that you will never regret any of the time that you spend with Jesus. It truly is so life giving and is just what your soul needs to combat the things of this world.

Please let me know if you have any questions on this! I would love to hear from you guys and be able to discuss this topic.

-Madeline Farner