You know, the same kind of thing happens when it comes to reading the Bible. That’s why so many leave their Bible on a shelf, hardly ever picking it up, except to write a wedding, funeral or birthdate into it. It is just too hard to figure out what it means.
Sometimes it is like having our boots on the wrong feet. In the Bible we sometimes read hard, challenging and even condemning words. We call that the Law. Other times we find sweet, comforting and assuring words. We call that the Gospel. But they have to be put on the right feet. If we are already feeling bad about our lives, and we focus on the Law parts of the Bible we will feel worse. On the other hand if we are defensive and making excuses for ourselves and we focus on the Gospel parts we will fall into a false security. We have to put the Boots on the right feet.
Secondly, sometimes we are content to read what the Bible means to somebody else. Some Christians read more books about the Bible than they actually read the Bible. They only read devotional and spiritual books. That’s not necessarily wrong, but it’s like putting on our cousin’s boots. We need to read and ponder the Bible for ourselves, asking the Holy Spirit to give us insights that are applicable for our life. This calls for the art of rumination. In a literal sense this is what cows do when they chew the cud. But figuratively it means to “think deeply about something.” In this way we will make the Bible our own.
Finally, when we read the Bible we may have to remove some things before beginning. (It would have been really good to take the mittens out of the boots before putting them on.) In the spiritual life we call this confession. The Holy Spirit really does want to speak to us but if there are things in our lives that are wrong, they will interfere with are being able to hear. Of course, it’s true that we will never rid ourselves of every sin. It may even seem like the moment we get one mitten out another one goes in. On top of that there are some mittens that are invisible to us. All that being true, it doesn’t mean that confession is a futile activity. We can still confess the things we are aware of and end by adding a general confession of all the things we are unaware of. The point is to clear the deck before we dig into the Bible, knowing that Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness. Then enjoy what God says to you.