I was so frustrated. I had been a Christian for 20 years. I had already internalized Philippians, the Gospel of John, and II Timothy. I had been presenting the Gospel of John for a couple years. I knew how awesome the Bible could be. And yet, I still had more days than I’d like to admit when I would be only two or three paragraphs into the Bible and my mind would drift off.
I simply could not focus. And I was mad. This is the conversation I had with God after closing my Bible in frustration.
Me: God…What is wrong with me? Why can’t I focus? I love You. I love Your Word. I know it is alive. But it doesn’t feel alive. Why is it that I can read a novel for two hours without having my mind drift at all, but I can’t read two paragraphs of the Bible without thinking of a million different things?
(pause to breathe)
God: Excuse me. Can I talk now?
The following dream/analogy/vision is what popped into my head. (I know this might be scary, but go with me into my brain.)
I was a running back on a football team. (I told you this was a dream.) My team was on the 20-yard line. Eighty yards to go. My number was called. I was getting the ball.
I had prepared. I had practiced. I was in shape. I knew the play. I knew where the hole was going to be and what blockers to follow. And I had done that all-important task of “visualizing the end zone.” Crowd cheering. Aaaahhhhhhh!!!!
The quarterback hands me the ball and off I go. Three yards…on my way…10 yards…wahoo!…22 yards…. BLAM!!! I’m on my back.
Hmmmm…Why am I not in the end zone? I pictured the end zone. I want to be in the end zone. Why am I not IN the end zone?
A teammate comes over to help me up and hears me mumbling those questions to myself. His response is “Hey man. There IS someone playing defense!”
Ah. Did you catch that? I never had even thought about it. Every time I sit down to read my Bible there is someone playing defense. Someone who is actively trying to make sure I don’t like it. Someone who is throwing distractions my way.
And the “defense” starts early – before I even pick up my Bible.
You don’t have time to read the Bible.
It won’t make a difference anyway.
There are more important things to do.
You need that extra 30 minutes of sleep way more than you need time with God.
And it continues as we read. Distractions. Random thoughts. Even important things that need to be thought about, but could wait till later.
For years, every time I would get distracted, I would simply blame myself. The thoughts that came into my head were Why can’t I focus? Why don’t I like the Bible? I don’t think I’ll ever get better at this. I should just quit. (Hmmm…where do those thoughts sound like they come from?) Anyone who has ever played sports will tell you that as soon as you can get the other team down on themselves, your work is done. You will win.
Bottom Line: We need a strategy for beating the defense. Next week’s posts will be entirely about the various strategies for beating the defense. (Oh…and they are not as difficult as you might think.)
Have you struggled with your mind wandering when you read the Bible? What have been some of your strategies for “beating the defense?”
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