Reading with the Heart

These past few weeks I have been Ruth Haley Barton’s “Sacred Rhythms“. Usually I read books fairly quickly and make a decision whether or not I’m interested enough to finish the whole thing. This week I have read and re-read Barton’s chapter on “Encountering God through Lectio Divina”. It’s pulling at me and I don’t want to be moved away from it.

Lectio Divina is an approach to Bible reading that encourages us to read God’s Word less as a textbook and more as a love letter. It is a move from studying primarily with the head to reading with the heart. We read textbooks for information and often want to see how little we can get away with reading and yet still understand the topic. That’s not how we read love letters. Love letters lend themselves to being read over and over again. We hang on every word, trying to glean as much as we possibly can from them. The more we read, the closer we feel to the writer.

Recently I’ve been hungering to read the Bible deeply in order to encounter God and hear Him, not to think about how I can teach a particular doctrine or lesson from the text.

The phases (dance steps!) of Lectio Divina are:
1. Preparation (Silencio)
2. Read (Lectio)
3. Reflect (Meditatio)
4. Respond (Oratio)
5. Rest (Contemplatio)
6. Resolve (Incarnatio)
There’s a break down on each step here.

This morning I read Romans 5:3-5 and the phrase that jumped out to me was “hope does not put us to shame”.

There are so many things I could say (and did say to God) about this: exploring areas of my life where I feel shame, meditating on what hope is and how it buoys me up. The journey took to places in my soul and asked questions I didn’t realise needed asking right now. I came face to face with the messy parts of my soul that I’m really good at hiding from other people and realised that God is not intimidated by my mess. I ended up reflecting how shame pulls me down but hope lifts me up. Hope is the beach ball that gets pushed under water and bounces back up- wonderful!

How do you approach reading the Bible at the moment? What is God saying to you?


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