One of the first things I learned about successfully fitting in with Christians was the power of nodding.
It made people think I understood things I didn't, and it covered over the insecurity and frustration of feeling like the Bible was never going to make sense to me. So, when they said things like, "I'm so inspired by Paul's courage," I would bob my head and make a mental note to investigate later.
When they upped the ante with phrases like, "This story takes place in modern-day Iraq," I nodded. I couldn't point at modern-day Iraq on a map if my life depended on it, let alone do the mental bridge-building to get to the part where this realization was as euphoric as it seemed to be for other people.
"So Many Pages. Such Thin, Thin Pages."
Have you ever been there? It's all over your head and you're counting the minutes until you can leave the situation that reminds you that you aren't smart enough to "get it."
And it's the worst. It's the absolute worst.
I'm a relatively bright person, and I tend to pick things up (fairly) quickly, but the Bible? That was different. I just couldn't make sense of it.
So many pages. Such thin, thin pages.
Like tissue that taunted me. That's what the Bible was to me for many years: taunting tissue.
Finding Help in an Unexpected Place
I eventually just got so frustrated that I pulled the lens back and walked into my local Christian bookstore. I asked them to point me in the direction of the children's section and I sat cross-legged on the floor thumbing through the bright photos and short summary stories for a few hours.
And don't laugh, because it actually helped me. I bought a few children's storybook Bibles and after I was finished with my classes each day I would sit on the balcony of our apartment and read. Slowly, and without letting the voice of condemnation speak louder than the voice of devotion.
I remember my short, whispered prayer: "Whatever it takes, Lord. I want to know You and see You in these words."
Grasping the Big Picture of Scripture
I memorized a few passages and did several amazing Bible studies, but the overarching story escaped me. Details just floated there in space without anything to anchor them down to the bigger picture.
It wasn't until I spent time investing in understanding the basic story that the characters and themes of Scripture really came to life for me, and my greatest desire is for my Bible study, Seamless to do the same for you.
Don't misunderstand me—I am by no means a Bible scholar and I'm sure I've barely scratched the surface when it comes to understanding the Word, but I've made progress.
Growing in My Understanding
I know enough about the general story of the Bible to be able to make an educated guess about the where and why of a particular story, and that's an amazing feeling.
For example, if you would have asked me where the story of Samuel was, I would have looked in the only place I knew would help me: the index. And I still do that plenty of times, but more often than not, I have enough surrounding information to know the general circumstances of his life to find him.
Now, it looks more like this: Samuel was the son of Hannah and was raised by Eli the priest. Eli was also a judge, and Samuel would grow up to become the very last judge before the people demanded a king and Saul was placed in that role.
Now I know the general story and time period for this particular person, and understanding who judges and kings were helps me know why his story is significant.
1 Eye-Opening Fact About the Bible
If you are able to dive into the Word through Seamless it is my prayer that the Holy Spirit will speak to you in new ways. No matter how little (or how much) you know, I pray that the Word will breathe life into you and that it will empower you to claim its promises as your own.
I want you to remember something very important: the Bible wasn't written for a few experts to understand while baffling the rest of us.
Did you hear that?
The Bible was written for us. With that being the case, I want you to erase any part of your self-talk that says you aren't smart enough or educated enough or even spiritual enough.
I can't tell you how many people I meet who hang their heads in conversation because they don't think they measure up to other, "smarter" Christians.
Listen: That's the Devil calling, and we aren't answering. He is no longer going to have that power over our lives. You are capable, intelligent and loved by the Author of the story. And we're putting our full weight into believing it.
Excerpted from Seamless: Understanding the Bible As One Complete Story.
Learn More About Angie Smith's Bible Study Seamless
In seven sessions, this study covers the people, places and promises of the Bible, tying them together into the greater story of Scripture. Participants will gain an overarching understanding of the fundamental layout and meaning of God's Word.
Seamless helps replace insecurity that holds participants back with clarity and helping them move forward with confidence in their understanding of Scripture. Each week of study features key information that ties all of Scripture together into the seamless truth of the gospel message and is accompanied by maps, general Bible facts and word studies.