In your first year at seminary, you will inevitably be on either the giving or receiving end of what is probably the oldest seminary joke in existence, perhaps dating back to the time of Jesus himself.
“Why do we have to buy all these textbooks? You would think that the only textbook we need is the Bible itself! Har har har.”
Everyone will give a hearty laugh and then go on with their day. But behind that joke is a serious edge that has plagued seminarians for centuries. We know that the Scriptures are a primary means by which God makes himself known and keeps us. And yet, with all the reading and studying one can do in seminary, it not only pulls you away from your time with the Scriptures, but it can make our source of life into a source of drudgery. Who wants to read the Bible devotionally when you’ve spent so many hours picking it apart and debating it and discussing it and learning how others have done so in the past?
A sad reality of seminary is that for many (perhaps even most!) seminarians, one of the first casualties in one’s devotional life is any personal Bible reading. You get to that place where you just don’t want to read it–or, more precisely, you want to, but just don’t have the spiritual strength to do it (anyone who’s been a Christian for any length of time probably knows what I mean).
But there’s one tool that God has given me that he consistently uses to draw me back to himself in those times when the Bible has lost its luster: a good Children’s Bible. (Here’s mine.)
Here’s my method: when I need to, I go through one story each night and then journal right on the page about how I saw Christ in that story.
I have found this to be so helpful and life-giving. I only use it for as long as I need to; as long as the Scriptures seem like heavy-lifting. In those words, I hear our family stories told anew. I don’t get haunted by wondering what the Greek or Hebrew is, the historical-critical methodologies that seem to be evident in the perspective of this writer, or various other discussions one can have about the text. I just sit on the lap of my God and ask him to tell me a story and let it shape me.
And so, every few months or so I find myself flipping open the pages of my Children’s Bible to the next un-journaled story and reading to see how my God has moved among his people, pointing towards his ultimate work of Christ on the cross.
Moral of the story: every seminarian—nay, every Christian—should be armed with a good children’s Bible they can turn to when their “grown-up Bible” just seems to have temporarily lost its flavor. So get yours. You will meet God. He will meet with you. I promise.