Of course, I negotiated my way there. I tried #6amwithgod. And then #545amwithgod, then #530amwithgod. And then I threw in the towel and set my alarm to start electroshocking me at 4:50. I am bleary, but I am upright and I am there. I shouldn't say this, but coffee helps. Don't judge me, y'all. I'm trying.
While wakey-wakey is the hardest part, I had to go one step further and admit - I'm going to be honest here, this is painful - I really have no idea how to STUDY the Bible. I've read a lot of the Bible, but no one ever showed me how to study it. Two things changed this for me and made Bible study not only a reality but so exciting that I'm not having as much trouble actually reaching the "upright and locked position" every morning. If you need a little direction in this area, read on:
The first thing that really helped (and I'm not even finished with the book yet, but I couldn't wait to get started) was Jen Hatmaker's book A Modern Girl's Guide to Bible Study. That gave me the practical tools to get going. Of course, I had to go on a scavenger hunt around my bookshelves to pull it all together. Bible dictionary, where did I put that? NLT study Bible, I know I have one. Notebook - check. Colored pens/pencils - check.
The key for me was to start small, and when I say small, I mean minuscule. Jen recommends taking one of the subheadings and just studying those verses - roughly ten at a time. Even that was too fast for me. One of the problems for me when trying to study the Bible in the past was that I was trying to understand too much at once. It was like taking a huge bite of granite and trying to chew it. Not only was it impossible, but it left a bad taste in my mouth. Frankly, it left me feeling too stupid to study the Bible.
Instead, I go verse by verse. Here's my formula:
Read a verse
Look up any cross-reference texts
Read any footnotes
Look up any confusing/vague words or concepts in Bible dictionary
So far this is working great. Mind you, I'm only mostly done with Jude, a book that spans a whopping two pages in my Bible, but I know a LOT about Jude and what he was writing about.
The other thing that has really helped me is discovering First5. The premise is to give God the first five minutes of your day. It's an app on your smartphone. (Don't get me started...aside from the camera...and Fitbit...and the alarm clock feature...okay, never mind...I'm a smartphone convert. I'll just admit it.) There's a short teaching on the Bible portion for the day and people can leave comments (which are often moving and/or enlightening). That's it. But it's not a devotion...it's BIBLE STUDY. You can purchase their study guide as well, but I haven't done that yet.
Admittedly, they move too fast for me, but I like it because it's more of a broad sweep through the books we're studying, and it's usually not more than a chapter, which I usually read in a different version (Harper Study Bible - RSV). But they provide significant insight into the Bible, and I mean, if you can do that in Leviticus, well, I'm going to tag along with you because this obviously isn't your first rodeo.
I started making notes and rewriting significant quotes from First5 on the blank backs of my journal pages because the information and teaching was just too good to read once and forget. This keeps everything in the same place, which satisfies the OCD part of my brain. And the act of journaling or copying directly helps me to hang onto stuff. Probably the writer in me. Studying the First5 portion for the day and tackling a few verses on my own seems to be the right balance for me between studying micro portions of Scripture and larger chunks so I feel as though I'm actually making some serious progress. Cause studying the Bible at my snail's pace, I might finish the New Testament by the time I'm 100. But, ya know, I got nothing but time.
My #5amwithgod friend posts pictures of her decorated Bible pages and a recap of what she learned each morning on Instagram. I don't draw during Bible study, though I do have an art Bible as well. Instead, I highlight and underline and journal, so I have started taking a picture of something significant from my study and posting it to Instagram as well.
If you'd like to join me, here are the hashtags I'm using:
* A note about #goodmorningglories: I created this hashtag to specifically set these morning reflections apart so anyone who wants to join our community of early risers can see what their friends learned from their time with God. It has a double meaning. Good Morning Glories is the name this group of people, but it's also what we receive when we rise up early in the morning to meet with God...we receive His glories. Since morning glories are beautiful flowers that close up at night and open with the first kiss of the sun in the morning, I thought they were an appropriate association for this group.
If you want to follow me on Instagram, I'm cperrinowalker. I can't wait to see what God shares with you during your #5amwithgod.
"I rise early, before the sun is up;
I cry out for help and put my hope in your words." Psalm 119:147, NLT
"Very early the next morning, Jesus got up and went to a place where he could be alone and pray." Mark 1:35, CEV