6:28 on a Monday morning. I hit snooze, but end up getting out of bed before my second alarm demands I do so because, as capable as I am at getting ready in 7 minutes flat, rushing isn’t something I thoroughly enjoy.
The lock of my door clicks, bidding me farewell as I depart for another 11 hour shift, juggling keys, phone, and a travel mug of tea.
I shuffle home later that evening, most likely after a trip to the gym and/or a meeting or two. I shower, invent a new dinner from the random assortment of goods in my pantry (mocking me for not having grocery shopped any time recently.) Then I sit on the couch and allow Homework to take my hand and lead me to Dreamland–where I toss and turn until the next 6:28am.
Now, not everyday is the same (though the hours are) as I transition between full-time student two mornings and one night a week and full-time employee everyday. The variety flavors each day with a slightly different spice, even though the portions rarely vary; however, have you noticed yet which staple is missing from my daily diet?
That’s right–time with God.
You see, somewhere along the journey to where I am today, I seem to have picked up a hitchhiking thought process that tells me ten extra minutes of sleep is more important than time with God. It mocks my failures and makes me believe that I don’t even know where to begin anymore when I open my Bible…so I just don’t. Or, at least, I don’t as often as I used to.
The tight-knittedness of where I come from led me to subconsciously base my faith on my engagement with everyone else–my family, my friends, my church, my youth group, my Bible study group. I was so deeply involved in the Christian community that spending personal time with God just seemed natural. But then I went to college.
Oh sure, I go to a Christian university. But that almost seemed to make it harder for me. No youth group exists on campus because nearly everyone that would attend is already plugged into a college group at one of the various local churches. The Bible is a key component in most classes, making it almost like a textbook. Chapel happens daily. And, somewhere in these past few years, it no longer felt necessary to go out and engage in Christian fellowship because, well, it was just…there. Without me putting forth any effort.
And I became lazy.
So here I find myself, taking a brief second to reflect on Mondays and weekdays and weekends gone by. Days when I skimmed the pages of my Bible half-heartedly feeling lost–and days when I didn’t even attempt to lick up the crumbs of my Daily Bread.
And, let me tell you, I hate being this honest. I hate admitting that I am failing in an area that I was once so diligent in. But I suppose a Bread-hungry part of my soul desperately hopes that my vulnerability will encourage even one other person who is struggling with this same dilemma. I hope to create a sense of accountability in myself. I hope take joy in opening my Bible each and every day.
So I vandalized my Bible.
That’s right. Inspired by Rebekah Jones’ Bible Art Journaling, I pulled out my watercolor pencils and paint brushes and flipped open to Romans 12:2:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
The colorful brain shown above reminds me that my mind needs to be transformed–that God has the power to let me see and live in vibrant colors as His love and mercy transform my life in a way that allows me to know Him more deeply.
But why did I go to the extreme of painting the pages of my Bible?
I’ve tried numerous Bible study methods–the most common of which involves me simply picking a book of the Bible and reading through it one or two chapters a day. But this just hasn’t been working for me lately, and I end up walking away from my Bible feeling unsatisfied. And while I enjoy Proverbs 31 Ministries’ app that allows me to make sure God’s Word is the first thing I see on my phone in the mornings, I felt like I needed something more.
Something that allowed me to dig deeper, even if it meant focusing on a smaller section.
Something that capitalized on my creative nature.
Something like vandalism.
Bible Art Journaling is a way for me to use the gifts God has given me as worship towards Him. It helps to slow my mind enough for me to focus on a small segment of Scripture that stands out to me so that I can create a visual reminder.
I guess the moral of my story is that there is no “right” way to grow closer to God, no “perfect” way to study the Bible. Sometimes it’s hard and sometimes you need to get creative and try new things. But one thing will always be right and perfect and unchanging, and that’s God’s immeasurable love and grace.
Even when I vandalize my Bible.