When I was 12 years old, the Bible came alive to me. I remember staying up late to read it under my covers. I would take it along with me wherever I went, stealing time to read it, gobbling up some verses here and there. Eventually, my voracious appetite for the Bible settled into a steady rhythm and diet. In college, I found a daily rhythm of reading that suited my schedule and followed me into marriage. All of that seemed to change, though, when God gave me young children.
I still wanted to read his word, but I had a hard time finding a rhythm that would work. Because babies and toddlers have changing needs and schedules, so did I. Things were always changing! From naptimes, to the number of hours slept in the night, to homeschooling priorities — my days with several small children were an odd mix of relentless repetition and constant adjustment to change.
The chaos left me asking what many Christian mothers have asked at some point or another: When does Mom get to be with God?
Early Mornings for Moms
As I wrestled with how to find a consistent way to read the Bible, I distinctly remember the sense of helplessness when a well-meaning person told me I just needed to get up very early and read before the children were awake. At that time, I was up several times through the night with a newborn while still attending to toddlers all day. The thought of forsaking even more sleep seemed not only physically impossible, but extremely unwise for both my well-being and the well-being of the dependent children in my care.
“There is no book as relevant or powerful in shaping you into a more godly wife or mother than the Bible.”
Perhaps, like me, you find yourself in a similar situation. And perhaps forsaking the physically necessary (and often-too-few) hours of God-ordained nighttime rest isn’t a sustainable solution for your problem of inconsistent or nonexistent Bible reading. So, what is the solution? First, you must know your desperate need for God’s word every day. Then you must recognize that God’s word is more precious than you could imagine, and your ideals about how to read it are less precious than you might imagine.
You Need the Bible Every Day
One difficulty in beginning to read the Bible is that until we begin to read the Bible regularly, our appetite will not be awakened to read it. In other words, our hunger for God in his word is awakened not before we read, but as we read.
The Bible is the great revealer. It shows us the God who made us, owns us, is righteously angry with us for our sin, and loves us so much that he absorbed his anger for us by sending his Son to die in our place and be raised to life. It shows us ourselves: our rebellion, our fears, our pride, our shame, our wilderness, and our redemption through the blood of Jesus. It tells us our history — the history of God’s people, with all their colossal sins and glorious times of obedience. It shows us what not to do and what to do. There is no book on earth that can give you as much practical daily help to put sin to death and to live to God. There is no book as relevant or powerful in shaping you into a more godly wife, mother, daughter, sister, or friend.
The word of God is not a novel that you consume and set down. It is not a once-a-year bottle of wine that you save for a special occasion. It is our daily spiritual bread (Luke 4:4). As such, when we read it, we are simply nourishing and strengthening ourselves for an everyday walk with Jesus. We are strengthening our arms for our daily Christian tasks. We are strengthening our eyes to see everything around us with the eyes of Christ. We are tuning our ears to discern truth from falsehood, and to distinguish God’s voice from the voice of the evil one.
When we stop eating God’s word every day, we grow spiritually weak — and not the kind of “weak” that God loves (2 Corinthians 12:9). Faith-filled weakness fuels a daily desperation to know God through reading his word. That is the sort of weakness through which God’s power is made perfect.
You Can Read the Bible Every Day
When my dad was a young man at West Point, he found himself overwhelmed by the difficulty of his classes. He frequently told me stories about his roommate who would make use of all his “in-between” times to study. Whether utilizing the spare minutes of waiting in line to get lunch or seizing the gaps of time in between classes, his roommate was able to chip away at his studies by redeeming the lost moments. My dad picked up on these habits and found that the classes that once overwhelmed him were now manageable.
I used his same methods of study in my college days, but it took me a bit longer to realize that they were applicable to my overwhelming life as a mom, too. I began to notice that I had minutes here and there that could be used for Bible reading if I were willing to adjust my expectations of what my Bible reading time looked like.
What if I could read my Bible while I nursed the baby? What if I could read my Bible while the kids played downstairs and the baby was napping? What if I could read while sitting in the car after arriving home from the park, with all the kids still sleeping in their car seats? What if, when I couldn’t fall back asleep in the middle of the night after being up with the baby, I opened up my Bible and read it, rather than ruminating over life’s problems? What if I could reawaken my 12-year-old hunger for God’s word, when I would carry it around with me everywhere and squeeze in reading some verses here and there?
“Dear fellow moms, you can read the Bible, but even more than that, you get to read it.”
And beyond fitting the Bible into the “in-between” times, what if I learned to delay lesser duties and prioritize this life-giving necessity? What if reading those three chapters in Ezra was more important than immediately cleaning up after lunch? What if I forced my schedule to revolve around my reading of the word, rather than vice versa? What if God’s word is not empty, but really is our very lives (Deuteronomy 32:47)? How would that change my daily consumption of it?
Flexibility and Consistency
You see, the advice to rise very early before the kids were awake in order to read the Bible is basically good advice. And if that’s your habit, I encourage you to continue in it. It assumes that reading God’s word is better than sleep. And it is! But in the case of moms with little ones, it also assumes that reading God’s word is an inflexible, solitary endeavor in which we must choose between needed sleep and the needed reading of God’s word. While that may be the case in certain moments, it isn’t always the case.
Reading God’s word is something that can be done with children around. It can be done with a baby in your arms. It can be done through your husband reading the Scriptures aloud to you over the dinner table. It can be done in the morning, afternoon, or night.
When you’re a mom of very young ones, an important tool you need to keep yourself fed with God’s word through those very short (yet very long) years is flexibility in how you read, along with consistency that you read. Be flexible about how you read God’s word, and be unwaveringly consistent that you read it. “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:8).
Reading God’s word is a duty the same way taking a drink of water in the desert is a duty. It is a job the same way eating breakfast is a job. It is laborious the same way running to meet your loving Father is laborious. It is tedious the same way receiving an inheritance is tedious. Dear fellow moms, you can read the Bible, but even more than that, you get to read it. Lay aside any and all reasons that are keeping you from it, and let God awaken your hunger for him as you listen to him in his word.