We can probably all agree that spending time reading the Scriptures is good for our spiritual growth and well-being. It is an important discipline to have. I read the Bible a lot – it is part of my job. Sometimes it feels like hard work. Sometimes it is a breeze. Sometimes it feels like dull going through the motions. Sometimes it feels like the Spirit causes the words to jump from page to heart. The discipline of it keeps us doing it through every kind of experience or season we can be having with the Bible. And… sometimes we read the Bible slow and sometimes we read it fast.
Which is better? To read it fast or read it slow? I think both are important. Sometimes when you look at a painting it’s good to stand back a see the composition from across the room – the broad strokes so to speak. Then it’s good to get close and see the small brush strokes that the artist has used to make the picture. Broad strokes and brush strokes. That’s similar to reading the Bible both really slowly and really quickly.
Reading It Slow. The Bible is God’s word. Every word of it is God’s word. That should cause us to want to take our time and savour it slowly. A lot of power can be packed into one verse or even clause within a verse. To sit and read slow, asking the Spirit to help us understand everything is a great way to read the Bible. Also, looking things up and considering different readings/interpretations is part of careful, slow reading. What does that mean? Why is this word used? Who is this directed to? How does this verse relate to the one before it? What, Holy Spirit, do you want me to see here? All of this requires slow reading. Reading Scripture slowly often means unlike the way you’d read a normal book. You wouldn’t pick up a novel a read four lines of it and meditate deeply on them, would you? But reading slow helps us get in deep in ways that we wouldn’t with other types of literature. Reading slow is like looking closely at the brush strokes
Reading It Fast. The Bible is a big book (actually collection of 66 books but, hey, you know what I mean!). And it tells one big story – God’s Story of how he has related to all he has made. There are over arching themes which sweep through from Genesis to Revelation. Consuming large amounts of Bible can help us see that. I love to read the Bible fast using a chronological reading plan. It helps show the big themes and the big storyline – Creation, Fall, Law, Israel, Exile, Return, Christ, Church, The Future. Just recently reading through Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations in rapid succession really helped me see a big piece of the BIg Story. Sometimes we can feel guilty about reading too fast – it does require zooming over a lot. But reading the Bible quickly (I mean four, five, six chapters at a time) has really helped me see the broad strokes.
Fine brush strokes and broad strokes both are part of a full picture. Individual verses and large themes both make up God’s Story to us. Read slow and read fast to see them both.