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Podcast: Q&A: Kristen Wetherell Answers Your Questions on How to Love the Bible More (Kristen Wetherell)

By Koa Sinag
Podcast: Q&A: Kristen Wetherell Answers Your Questions on How to Love the Bible More (Kristen Wetherell)

This article is part of the The Crossway Podcast series.

Questions about Bible Reading

In this episode, Kristen Wetherell answers questions from around the world about things like keeping your Bible reading time fresh, making time for God’s word as a busy parent, and engaging with Scripture when you’re struggling with grief.

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Topics Addressed in This Interview:

  • You’re Not Alone If You’re Discouraged
  • How Do I Maintain a Zeal for God’s Word?
  • What If I’m Stuck in a Rut?
  • How Do I Guard against Overfamiliarity?
  • How Do I Meditate on God’s Word throughout the Day?
  • What Methods Can Help Me Memorize Scripture?
  • How Can I Rekindle a Love for the Word While Walking through Grief?
  • Why Is It So Hard to Enjoy Bible Reading as a Parent of Young Kids?
  • How Do I Lead My Kids in Reading the Bible?
  • Is It Legalism to Read the Bible When I Don’t Genuinely Desire It?
  • How Do I Know When and If I Love the Word Enough?

00:49 – You’re Not Alone If You’re Discouraged

Matt Tully
Kristen, thanks so much for joining me again for this special bonus listener Q&A episode of The Crossway Podcast.

Kristen Wetherell
Thanks for having me back. This is great.

Matt Tully
A while back, we invited listeners to submit their questions for you related to cultivating a love for God’s word, a hunger for God’s word—something that we all obviously want, but sometimes we all, to some extent, struggle to have in our own lives. And we received many questions from people all around the US, but one of the main themes that was present throughout all of them was just a sense of feeling maybe a little bit discouraged, a little bit like I want more out of my Bible reading. Do you resonate with that? Is that something you’ve felt? Do you hear that from people that you’re talking to and working with on a regular basis?

Kristen Wetherell
Yes! The answer is yes.

Matt Tully
So we’re not alone when we feel discouraged by our Bible reading habits or lack thereof.

Kristen Wetherell
No, this is such a universal feeling among Christians, and it’s one of the reasons why I wrote Help for the Hungry Soul, because I was seeing it in myself, I was hearing it from people in my small group, in my church. My husband is a pastor, so even just hearing him processing, generally, what is the church struggling with that was a common struggle? The sense of guilt over just not doing what we’re supposed to when it comes to the Bible; a desire for things to change, though, but also a sense of feeling stuck in how to make a change. So I think a lot of us can grow discouraged, if not all of us.

Matt Tully
That’s a great segue into the first question that I want to talk about today, and it’s related to this sense of feeling stuck. And so here’s the question that we got from somebody, and I love it because it’s a very on the ground, in the trenches kind of question. It’s a raw question that I think we all can resonate with. This person writes in: “When it comes to hungering after God’s word, where do you even start when you’re in a dry season and the thought of picking up your Bible is overwhelming? Or when you’re in the trenches of the little years of motherhood, and time seems like a luxury that you really can’t afford? Or when God maybe seems silent and the pages of the Bible appear dull?” Big question there: Where do I start, in any one of those situations that we might be facing, where it’s hard to be in the word? What would you say to that?

Kristen Wetherell
I just love that question. I feel that question. I am in the trenches of motherhood. I have three little ones, and it is hard and I have gone through many dry seasons. The word that comes to my mind is helplessness. It’s starting, really, with a heart posture before the Lord of saying, I am helpless to stir up any desire in myself for this, perhaps as well as finding the time and the resources to spend time with you in your word. When we humble ourselves before the Lord, his promise is that he draws near. And what a sweet thing that is to be able to cry out to God and say, God, you have given me this precious book, where you are speaking to me, and yet I don’t want it like I should, and/or I want it but I just can’t seem to find the time or the energy to open it or to enjoy it. Help me! And so I think that’s the right place to start. That’s the place that Scripture itself would tell us to start. Who does God draw near to? Isaiah says it’s the one who is broken and contrite in spirit, and who trembles before his word. So let’s start there. Lord, I need your help. It’s a heart posture.

Matt Tully
That can be such a counterintuitive way to start because I think sometimes when we feel like we are helpless and we feel like we’re failing in something, we can feel ashamed by that. We can want to run away from that, and we all have different ways of coping with those feelings. Some of us try harder in our own strength and just try to push our way through it, or some of us might be in denial and not want to acknowledge that we’re struggling in some way. But it sounds like you’re saying, No, actually, maybe we need to lean in to those feelings of helplessness, and bring those to God instead of doing something else with them.

Kristen Wetherell
Right. And I think that the church, the body of Christ, would greatly benefit from us being more transparent in that way. I agree with you. I think there’s a lot of, like we’ve said, discouragement, guilt, and shame associated with it, so we tend to maybe not speak up and not say, Hey, brother in Christ, hey, sister in Christ, I need you to pray for me because this is not going well. I have not read my Bible for months, and I need you to pray for me. I think we feel ashamed by that, but what a blessing to have the body of Christ surrounding us in prayer, or even bolstering us with ideas for getting in the word. That can be such a blessing. So I think there’s benefit there.

Matt Tully
So bringing it both to God and to other Christians as well.

Kristen Wetherell
Right.

05:43 – How Do I Maintain a Zeal for God’s Word?

Matt Tully
Maybe as a follow up question, for the person who’s maybe gotten started—they’ve done that, they’ve started to read the Bible more consistently, they’ve maybe gotten help from other Christians—then the question is, How do I maintain a steady habit after the initial zeal wears off? That’s another question that we got from a listener.


Kristen Wetherell
I would encourage the listeners, first, to ask God for help. Second, to express a commitment not only before the Lord but to someone else. Maybe you even write it down somewhere, but say, I need you to hold me to this. I want to be in God’s word more because I know that it’s good for my soul, and because I want to know him, I want to love him, I want to walk with him. So would you please ask me how this is going in a week? Grab some accountability. I think that there’s wisdom to making a commitment.

Matt Tully
One question on that—the accountability side—I think that can be an intimidating word. The idea of asking someone, inviting someone else into this and even encouraging them, Hey, ask me how I’m doing, that can be kind of a scary prospect. Have you wrestled with that?

Kristen Wetherell
A little bit, and I’m sure we’ll get into this, but I think sometimes the idea of accountability seems scary because we’re setting ourselves up for some kind of standard that maybe is too high a standard. And by that I mean we have this idea of being in the Bible that we call quiet time, which we’ve talked about in the past, but so much of this idea of quiet time is a cultural construct and kind of a burden that we put upon ourselves—it has to be an hour or two long, I have to have commentaries in front of me and be studying the Bible in depth. All those are really good things, but the reality is the Bible not only doesn’t command that idea of quiet time but it’s not realistic for hungry people with full lives. I’m a mom of three young kids, and it’s hard to grab an hour in the Bible. It’s really hard. And so if you told me, Well, okay, so I’m holding you accountable to that standard. How did you do? Of course I’m going to say, Well, I didn’t do that this week. But Did you spend time with God in his word this week? That sounds a lot broader, and that could look like a lot of different things. We can be creative in our pursuit of the Lord in his word. And so I think accountability might feel scary because maybe we’re afraid of failing and we’re afraid of being shamed. But if we also remember that the body of Christ is for us, then anybody who is going to hold us accountable loves us, and they’re doing so because they love us. So I think there are a couple things to remember there.

Matt Tully
So keep going. Share what else you were going to say about how to help develop a habit.

Kristen Wetherell
I would say start small. It’s great to come at this with big goals—I’m going to wake up an hour earlier, and I’m going to read for an hour. And that’s great if you can do that. That’s wonderful. But I would say start small. Set your alarm clock five minutes earlier, ten minutes earlier, and choose a verse to meditate on. Start there. Start small. And with that, you just kind of watch the deposits add up. These things add up over time. I heard someone say once that it’s a drip feeder, and the little drips and the little drops don’t seem like much in themselves, but over time—drip—you’re watching the drops add up, and suddenly you have a whole resource of water to thrive on. So start small. Watch the deposits add up. And leverage the gaps in your day, ditching that myth of quiet time.

Matt Tully
Yeah, at a certain time, first thing in the morning, perhaps.

Kristen Wetherell
Yeah, leverage the gaps in your day. Maybe you do have an hour to spend before your kids get up. That is wonderful, and go for it. But if you don’t, do you have five or ten minutes in the car line, waiting for your children? Do you have a commute to work when you could turn on an audio Bible? Leverage the gaps in your day because they matter. And again, those small deposits add up. And habits are sticky. So if you have the opportunity to be in the same time, same place every day, do that. I have a spot in my living room. It’s just my spot. I could read anywhere in our house, I suppose, but it’s just a spot on my couch. I leave my Bible right there. I’m not looking for it; it’s just there. And so I would encourage the listeners to just pick a spot, pick a time. It doesn’t mean that that time can’t change, but habits are sticky, so if it can be the same, that is super helpful. And then I also thought, too, if you’re struggling with starting, maybe start with someone else. Grab a friend, grab a neighbor. It could be a believer who you want to dive into the depths of God’s word alongside. Maybe it’s an unbeliever. Maybe it’s a neighbor and you want to invite them to read the Gospel of John together. Grab someone else because there’s multiplied joy in reading God’s word together and hearing another person’s insights and their questions. I’ve heard people say that that’s super helpful, too, to grab a friend.

Matt Tully
Accountability isn’t always somebody else looking in and saying, Hey, have you done it today? Sometimes it’s someone doing it right alongside with you.

Kristen Wetherell
Yeah, absolutely.

Matt Tully way.
I’m struck that a lot of the things you mentioned, whether it’s picking a certain time of day and trying to be consistent or even a physical location, some of those are insights that we see in the broader secular world when it comes to habit formation. Sometimes we can think of habits as purely in our minds, but actually there’s a tangible, whole-body dynamic to our habits that sometimes we maybe neglect when it comes to our spiritual disciplines.

Kristen Wetherell
That’s right. I wonder if we do so because the emotions aren’t there. We just don’t feel like doing whatever it may be. In this case, I don’t really feel like reading my Bible. My day is just so busy. It’s just hard to even get started. There’s a principle here because everything that I do for myself—for example, my body. Exercising is hard and is something that I don’t feel like doing. But the more I do it, the more I want to do it. And the more I benefit from it. And the same goes for reading the word. When we draw near to the Lord in his word, he promises that he will satisfy the longing soul. And that might look different for every person, and it might take time—that drip-feed effect. But it’s good for our souls, just like exercise is good for my body. And I have found that the more I read, the more I want to read. So perhaps take that as a challenge, whoever’s listening, to open your Bible, and do it again the next day, and do it again the next day, and just see what happens. Just see what God does.

Matt Tully
Sometimes, though, we expect, when it comes to exercising, that it’s not going to feel very good. Most of the time for most of us, it hurts. And it’s really hard to just get out of bed and get those shoes on and start jogging. We kind of expect the Bible might be different; it might feel better right away.

Kristen Wetherell
Well, I think we’ve been very much fed that in a culture that likes ease and comfort and is constantly innovating—

Matt Tully
Quick results.

Kristen Wetherell
Yeah. Instant gratification, quick results. And so it’s not going to be that way. The work of God’s word is an unseen, supernatural, slow work. That doesn’t mean that God can’t do quick and miraculous things. He does all the time, but it’s a slow and unseen work typically. And that is not what we’re used to hearing. It’s not what we’re used to doing. And so, sure, can reading the word sometimes feel a little like we’re exercising our faith muscles and that can be hard and that can feel rough? It can. But is the end result worth it? Is our faith in Christ strengthened as a result? Yes. And that is a promise. And so it’s worth going to, even when it’s hard.

13:41 – What If I’m Stuck in a Rut?

Matt Tully
That’s a great next question, and it’s from the perspective of someone who is in a habit of reading the Bible. Someone writes in, “I know that we are to read our Bibles because it’s the right thing to do, but I feel like I’m in a rut with it. How do I get myself back into a place where I crave reading the Bible? Do you have any practical tips for when I spend time in the Bible to help me get out of this rut that I’m in?”

Kristen Wetherell
I feel like I’m in the rut right now, so I feel that question. It’s happened many times before. So I think what’s helpful, too, is just to realize that these dry seasons do happen, and that doesn’t make you a bad Christian.

Matt Tully
Yeah, sometimes we think, What am I doing wrong? Why am I feeling like this right now?

Kristen Wetherell
And that doesn’t mean that my heart is perfect, because it’s not. So there probably are heart issues going on. But that doesn’t mean that you’re a bad Christian. We all walk through it. And I think that it’s helpful to remember that God is not prescriptive about how we spend time in his word. He just wants our hearts. He just wants us near to him. So what I have found, by experience, is that I need to switch things up when I’m in a rut. Usually, my rut happens because I’m a very routine personality. I’m very type A. I like routine. And so my rut happens because I just keep doing the same thing, the same Bible reading plan, which is great! But I have found that if I switch things up, that helps so much to have fresh perspective to feel like I have different springboards for praying back to God and talking to him in response to what I’m reading. So what might some of those things be, like different methods, ways that we could switch it up? Well, you could slow down or you could speed up. So you could meditate on fewer verses. Let’s say you’re kind of in the habit of reading a few chapters out of a reading plan. Ditch that for now. Slow down. Take a small chunk of Scripture, a couple verses, and just mull them over and ask questions about them.

Matt Tully
That’s a very different experience.

Kristen Wetherell
Yeah, it’s so different. Or maybe you need to speed up. Maybe that’s kind of what you’ve been doing—just opening your Bible for small sections—and you would benefit from taking a book of the Bible, maybe a shorter book of the Bible, and reading it all the way through, and asking some questions about that and praying out of that and talking to God from that. Perhaps you could read a book alongside what you’re reading. My reading plan just took me to Job. And I know from past experience it is hard for me to get through Job because the middle section is so hard to understand. And I said, Okay, I’m kind of feeling like I’m in this rut anyway. Do I just toss out the reading plan? What do I do? So I picked up this great Christopher Ash book (I believe it’s a Crossway book) called Trusting God in the Darkness. And so I read that, as I read Job, and that was so wonderful. It was so refreshing to not just have my own thoughts, but Christopher Ash’s thoughts on Job. He helped me understand the book so much better. And I could praise God for that and pray out of that and kind of apply it to my life. So maybe read a book alongside what you’re reading.

Matt Tully
A book that relates to that book of the Bible or that passage.

Kristen Wetherell
Yeah. Or maybe you haven’t followed a reading plan, follow a reading plan. That’ll give you an actual plan to follow. Turn on an audio Bible. If you’re in a rut with reading, try listening. It’s a very different experience when you’re listening to the word. So we could go on and on, but I would say if you’re in a rut, make a change. You have permission to make a change.

Matt Tully
Do you think that’s something that people struggle with, feeling like they have permission to try something new and to experiment?

Kristen Wetherell
Certain personalities. I wouldn’t say that that’s everyone. Because some people are in a rut because they’re not in the word. And so their rut is, But how do I get there? And that was the previous question that you asked. How do I even start? Where does the appetite even come from? And then others of us are perhaps in the word often, and so the rut is, I’m bored! This feels so over familiar to me. I think one of the two will touch many people.

17:47 – How Do I Guard against Overfamiliarity?

Matt Tully
Another question we got is related to that overfamiliarity issue. The person writes in, “For those who have been reading their Bibles for a long time, how do we keep ourselves from the danger of familiarity so that we can continue to see Jesus with fresh eyes?” And I wonder if this person is maybe less asking, How do I feel motivated or excited to read the Bible? but they just kind of feel like, I want to make sure I’m getting new things out of God’s word as I engage with it over and over again, and especially related to the gospel and to Jesus. What advice would you give for guarding against this overfamiliarity, assuming we kind of know what it says already?

Kristen Wetherell
Well, I love the story in Luke’s Gospel, chapter 24, when Jesus has been crucified and has risen, but there are two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus, and they’re talking about everything that’s happened. They’re probably so discouraged. We thought that this guy was the hope of Israel, and now he’s gone. What are we to make of this? And then Jesus appears and walks with them. And they don’t recognize him. Scripture says that they don’t recognize him. They’re recounting to him all of these things that have happened recently, and then Jesus basically says, Have you not seen this in Scripture? Everything in Moses and the prophets has pointed to this. And it wasn’t until later when Jesus opened up their eyes to see that they could recognize him. And I think that that story is a wonderful encouragement for us who know a lot about Jesus, who love him, who are in his word all the time, but have grown very familiar with a lot of things about him. Calling upon him to open our eyes freshly, that we would not just read his word like it’s a book but seek him in the word, and to be able to see his his heart and his glory there—I think that that story encourages us to start there, and convicts us that we can miss him. We can read the Bible to check off a list, even to feel good about ourselves or to solve some kind of a problem that’s going on in our lives. But if we’re missing the person to whom Scripture points, we are missing the whole point. Again, I have been there. I think those of us who teach and write and preach out of the word (my husband is pastor, and I’m a writer), over familiarity is a danger. And we often pray against this professional Christianity. We want to know him. We want to abide with him. And so I would say prayer, and while you’re praying, even asking Jesus for a greater sense of your dependence on him and your need for him. Not that we want to be asking him for suffering. We never want to ask for that. But anything that draws us near to him, I think will keep the Bible from becoming a book. And will keep it being the living words of the living God. The words that we need. The promises that we must cling to in order to walk this walk until we see him face to face. So that’s what I would say.

20:56 – How Do I Meditate on God’s Word throughout the Day?

Matt Tully
A couple of minutes ago you mentioned meditation. I think that’s one of those topics that sometimes we can feel a little bit like, I’m not really sure what that means. I’m not sure what that looks like. I know what it is to read my Bible, but what does it mean to meditate on it? One listener wrote in, “What are some of the ways that you go about meditating on the scriptures that you read throughout the day?”

Kristen Wetherell
This is hard. Sometimes I’ll get to the end of the day and I’ll think, What did I read this morning? And you can’t remember.

Matt Tully
The day is so full.

Kristen Wetherell
It’s so full. Lord, did I acknowledge you today? The days just blow by, and so this is a great question and it’s one that I ask all the time. How can I keep in my mind and heart what I read? For me, it’s in the morning. I read in the morning.

Matt Tully
So that’s kind of how you define meditating—keeping those words in your mind and in your heart throughout the day.

Kristen Wetherell
Yeah. Thinking on God’s word so that it sticks with you. Enjoying it, not just, continuing with the metaphor of eating, not just snarfing and inhaling your food but enjoying it. Tasting its flavors, asking questions about the text. Who is God? What does he say? Who does he say that I am? What is the church? How does this apply to the spiritual realm? What is God asking me to do in response to this? Those are all ways to meditate. But just some ideas because, very practically, I’m asking this question every day, and I would say just choose one verse or one promise, or maybe it’s a command, to keep with you. Choose one. You don’t have to remember the entire passage. Just pick one.

Matt Tully
Just pick something from it.

Kristen Wetherell
Ask the Spirit to bring it to mind. I’ve been convicted lately that, like James says, you do not have because you do not ask. Okay. Holy Spirit, I find so many days I get to the end of my day and I have not thought about what I read. Please, would you bring this to mind? Please, would you, in tense moments in our house or or conflicts at work or whatever it may be, while I’m taking a walk, would you please bring it to my mind? So ask him for help. Ask him to do that. But a couple practical ideas. A while ago I kept my Bible open in the kitchen. So maybe keeping it open in a room that you visit often so that you can look at it. Write it on your hand. I have a friend who writes the first letter of each word of the verse on her hand. And then when she looks at it, it’s a reminder to think about it, or even memorize it.

Matt Tully
A little memory aid.

Kristen Wetherell
Yeah. A little memory aid. Write it on your hand. I’ve heard of friends setting phone reminders, and it’ll pop up with the verse. So they just look at it, and it causes them to think about the Lord and to meditate on what they read that morning. Do it with your kids. Let’s say you read in the morning, and then at breakfast or lunch or whenever you want to do something with your kids, go to that verse. Open it with them. Talk about it with them. I also keep just a little Psalms Bible by my bed. So at night I just read not even a whole Psalm, just a section. And I think about it as I fall asleep. Not only does it help me fall asleep in a peaceful way, but it’s just another way to meditate on Scripture. So I think there are many ways we can do it throughout the day. Those are just a few.

Matt Tully
What I like about those is that many of them, even most of them, were just these small little things. They don’t necessarily require a whole new dedicated time in the day and thirty minutes of no distractions and no interruptions. It’s just little things throughout the day to help keep God’s word on the forefront of your mind. It takes a little bit of intentionality, and maybe it entails some habits that we want to build, but it’s really not that complicated or not that burdensome.

Kristen Wetherell
Right. And the small things add up.

24:35 – What Methods Can Help Me Memorize Scripture?

Matt Tully
Another question related to memorization. We’re getting into that zone here. And that’s another one of those topics that many, if not most or if not all of us, can feel a little bit guilty about because we don’t feel like we memorize Scripture as much as we should. And so someone writes in and asks, “As someone who struggles with recall due to a past illness, what methods can I use to help me as I read and study Scripture to be able to better remind myself of the truths of God’s word, as well as to better engage with others during group Bible studies or something like that?” What advice would you give to somebody who is like that?

Kristen Wetherell
Well, first of all, praise God for your desire to keep memorizing Scripture even though you struggle with recall. And I’m sorry to hear that. That’s hard. Shen you’ve gone through an illness that affects you physically, that’s just a very hard thing. And so I praise God for you right now and your desire. Remember grace. Start there, and just remember that God does not love you more today because you memorized or tried to memorize a verse or a section of verses. We need to remember the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. And I think for some of us who struggle with physical limitations, and that’s part of my story too. I’ve had some past health struggles that have affected present living. It can be easy to be hard on myself, but I think that we need to remember grace and remember that your salvation is not based on your ability to memorize verses. So I think we need to start there. Second, I would say if someone with a broken leg said, How can I start to walk again? or perhaps it’s a more permanent injury and someone asks, How can I start to walk again? you wouldn’t blame them for using some kind of a crutch or a help. If you need that, use it. Maybe memorizing large chunks of Scripture just isn’t feasible in this season of your life, and you need the note cards. Great. Use the note cards. That is so honoring to God. He sees your heart. Use the note cards. Journal. Write things down. I find, too, that that not only helps me memorize but just helps me take it into my heart. Because the point is that we’re wanting God’s word to change us, to increase our love for him, to make us more like him. So if writing it down, journaling it, does that for you, do that. Again, listening to the Bible is sometimes a different way of cognitively receiving it. So if you need some kind of a help, then take it and use it. And just praise God for it. That’s okay.

Matt Tully
Any advice for someone who, if they were being honest, would say, I don’t have any of those physical limitations or hindrances to memorizing Scripture. I just struggle to feel motivated. It feels hard, and my memory isn’t as sharp as it maybe once was when I was a kid. What about them? What advice would you give to someone who’s like, I want to start doing this more consistently?

Kristen Wetherell
I would say that’s been me more recently since my kids were born. Prior to that I would have said I was pretty well-versed in the Bible, and so I could probably find things easily or paraphrase them pretty easily. But memorizing word for word, frankly, it wasn’t a huge part of my walk and part of my life. When friends started talking about doing that with their kids, I just felt the conviction about it. I do want more of the word hidden away in my heart. Imagine that Bibles were confiscated, or something crazy like that, would I know God’s word? So there have been some great books written about methods. I would say if you really need some practical ideas, grab one of those books. Memorizing Scripture by Glenna Marshall—there’s a lot of them out there. And again, start small. It’s great to memorize an entire book of the Bible, but maybe just start with a verse if you want to build up. Similarly, when we meditate, we probably memorize more than we realize, so any of those methods for meditation will probably help you.

Matt Tully
There’s a lot of overlap there.

Kristen Wetherell
Yeah, there is a lot of overlap, but my kids and I have really enjoyed setting verses to rhythms. We’re kind of a musical family. We really appreciate music, and I studied music in college. And so that kind of comes more naturally to me. It may not for everyone. If you’re kind of rhythmically inclined, set Scripture to rhythms because it has helped me to memorize. And now like the kids and I will just start talking through Psalm 23, and it’s to a beat, and it makes it so much easy to memorize. And then when I’m praying and I don’t have my Bible, it’s just there. So it’s kind of a fun way to do it.

Matt Tully
So good. Again, there are so many creative ways, and people have thought of ideas like that. There’s even whole albums I know of that are just Scripture set to music that you can stream on iTunes.

Kristen Wetherell
That’s right.

29:24 – How Can I Rekindle a Love for the Word While Walking through Grief?

Matt Tully
Another really moving question that we received that maybe represents a lot of people who might be experiencing different levels of grief is from someone who writes in and says, “I became a widow on July 4th, 2020, and it became very difficult for me to study the word after that. I was not angry at God and I knew that he was always there, but I just lost the passion during my grief. How do you suggest I rekindle the love of the word while still walking through grief?”

Kristen Wetherell
I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. Grief is just so hard. It’s just so hard to walk through, to feel like you’re not isolated in your grief. And I love the question because I hear in the question just such a desire to be close to the Lord. And I would say use the Psalms. The Psalms were Israel’s prayer book, their book of prayers, and you will find there pretty much every emotion under the sun, including a lot of grief and a lot of sadness. And so if that’s where you need to land to give voice to your grief and voice to your sadness, I would say use the Psalms. I mean, listen to this: Psalm 6:6 says, “I am weary with my moaning. Every night I flood my bed with tears. I drench my couch with weeping.” Psalm 102:2: “Hear my prayer, O Lord, let my cry come to you. Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress.” How many of us feel like he’s far when we’re in distress? So there is very real emotion here, and God is not saying, Stuff it down. That’s not right. He’s giving you words to pray. So I would say go to the Psalms. Again, we’re remembering grace here. We are remembering that God knows our frame and that he remembers that we are dust. He is the one who wept in the face of death when Lazarus died. He understands, and that’s a real balm when you’re hurting.

31:29 – Why Is It So Hard to Enjoy Bible Reading as a Parent of Young Kids?

Matt Tully
Here’s a question that’s relevant for someone in your stage of life and in my stage of life—parents with young kids. Sometimes it feels like in those years there’s a certain kind of unique busyness that can come with those early years. This person writes in, “It seems like when I sit down to read Scripture or pray, my kids become even more rambunctious. If God desires me to love his word, why is it so often so hard to sit down and enjoy my reading in my time with him as a parent of young kids?”

Kristen Wetherell
Wow! What a good question! I’m just nodding my head as I hear that. Why is it so hard? A number of reasons. The first thing that comes to mind is life is just hard, right? There’s a lot of toil. There’s a lot of joy, too, but there’s rarely a perfect and convenient time to sit down and read Scripture.

Matt Tully
What a great point. Sometimes we’re looking for that convenient time.

Kristen Wetherell
It’s that idea of quiet time, right? This cultural construct that things have to be ideal before I can get into the word. Now that being said, this person is clearly hungry. And if you are hungry and you are feeling malnourished, maybe you need to ask someone to take your kids away from you for a little while. And you do need that time. That time is not wrong. Maybe you need to go to a quiet place—a library, a coffee shop. Ask your husband, ask grandparents, a church member. Maybe you need that time alone with the Lord. So definitely seek it. I’m not telling you not to seek it. But I also think because of this construct of quiet time, we have this ideal that can sometimes keep us from the word anytime, when it’s not an ideal situation.

Matt Tully
If I can’t get the ideal, then it’s not even worth doing anything.

Kristen Wetherell
Right, right. Oh, who was it? Was it Susanna Wesley who used to put an apron over her head? She had like six kids or something, and she would say, When the aprons over mom’s head, mom’s praying. Don’t disturb me. Isn’t that it? Your kids are running around screaming. And so I would say your heart is in the right place. You know that the Lord wants you to prioritize his word. How can you get that in in fresh and creative ways without giving into this false guilt that it has to be a certain way, while still recognizing that hunger and asking someone for help if you do need to get away and have some quiet? I think it’s probably both. I think it’s a great question because young kids are hard, and they’re loud—in the best way. We love them, Matt, right?

34:04 – How Do I Lead My Kids in Reading the Bible?

Matt Tully
Maybe that relates to another question we got: “How do I implement a Bible study, or even just lead my kids in reading the Bible? I find it difficult to do a Bible study on my own, but I want to introduce something to my kids. Is it too early to start having them learn the Bible with me?”

Kristen Wetherell
It’s never too early. And my answer for this question definitely applies to the previous question as well. Your church is a gift. When you go to church on a Wednesday or a Sunday or whenever it is, God is serving you his word, and you get to feast on it. And this is perhaps your main source of spiritual nourishment. It’s not your own individual time in God’s word. That is very, very good, and we should pursue it. When we think about what the Bible is, it’s actually God’s words addressed to God’s gathered people, all the way through. So your church really matters. Busy mom, when you go to church on a Sunday morning, send your kids to Sunday school because not only is this going to be feeding their souls, but your soul, as you sit under the preaching of the word. And so for the mom with toddlers, is it too early? It is never too early for your kids to receive the word with their church family. It is never too early for you to open the Bible, to make it a habit of it, as Deuteronomy 6 says—“These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. Do it when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” It’s just all the time. It’s in your conversations, it’s in your disciplinary moments, it’s the literal opening of the Bible maybe before bed, or a storybook Bible. It’s just throughout your lives. God’s word is our life because we love him. And kids are sponges, and they can also handle a lot more than we think that they can. So I would just encourage that mom to not underestimate what our kids are able to absorb. Because the Spirit can really use that.

Matt Tully
As a self-professed type A type person, have you ever struggled with something similar to the whole quiet time idea that, that when it comes to leading our kids in the Bible, it has to look a certain way and it has to have a certain consistency or formality or extended time to it? I’m envisioning my kids sitting down all quietly around a table and they’ve all got their Bibles open and they’re listening attentively to what we’re saying. But most often it doesn’t really feel like it works out that way. So is there something to that where we have to be okay with the as we’re going about our day dynamic to teaching our kids?

Kristen Wetherell
Yeah. Absolutely. I’m guilty of that. Thinking it needs to be a certain way? Yes. I think we reach for the realistic, not the ideal. And again, the small things add up. I will say I think a major influence for good and for ill has been the internet and social media. We have so many awesome resources that it can feel wonderful for parents to be equipped but also overwhelming. We can even start to compare ourselves. Oh, they’re doing that? We’re not doing that. We must be failing. I feel that all the time! And so I think it’s helpful to just say, What’s one thing that we could implement? And it can be simple. This morning my kids and I pulled out a card—it’s like flashcards. We’re using flashcards that have a verse to look up, a thought about it, and a prayer. Just very, very simple. And I think the baby was screaming, and I think we were telling my son to please come sit down five times, and my daughter knows how to read now, so she’s trying to read and she’s saying, Brother, please be quiet! But we’re doing it, and I think that that’s probably the point, that we show our children that God is infinitely valuable and that he is the most to be treasured. We’re building that foundation and that worldview. We’re introducing our children to Jesus, and how we do that looks different. But as long as we’re doing it, that’s great! I think they can handle more than we think that they can.

Matt Tully
That’s so encouraging.

Kristen Wetherell
It is. It is.

38:17 – Is It Legalism to Read the Bible When I Don’t Genuinely Desire It?

Matt Tully
Maybe a last couple of questions, and this one relates to our emotions, our affections, and how we feel about the Bible sometimes. Someone writes in, “How much should I worry about how I feel about reading the Bible? If I feel like I don’t want to but I know that I should and then do it out of obedience rather than genuine desire, is that wrong? Is that legalism?”

Kristen Wetherell
I think we often use the word “legalism,” but I think we maybe mean “hypocrisy.” Because legalism is trying to earn your salvation. So if you’re reading your Bible to try to earn your salvation, then that is legalism. And you won’t earn your salvation by reading your Bible. It’s not going to work. It’s by grace we’re saved through faith in Christ. But I think you’re talking about a sense of hypocrisy. Like, Oh, if I’m not feeling like reading my Bible but then I do it anyway, am I being a hypocrite? I think that’s what you’re asking. When really it sounds to me like you’re trying to do the right thing. God commands us to live in his word, to abide in him, to hold fast to the word of life. So is my obedience to God’s command hypocrisy? I suppose it could be if I’m not doing it to know him; if I’m just opening my Bible to check off a list. But if you’re coming because you really want to know God and you’re just feeling like, Oh, my heart’s just not in it right now, but I’m wrestling, and I really want my heart to be in it right now. So am I just being a hypocrite by not coming? I would say no. I would say you’re obeying the Lord, which is honoring to him. And back to our illustration: what if I chose to exercise even when I didn’t feel like it? Would you call me a hypocrite? If I ate my veggies even though I didn’t want to? If I continued to care for my kids even though it didn’t really feel life giving to me in the moment, you would say, You’re doing what’s best. Oftentimes the hardest pursuits are the worthiest ones. And oftentimes our feelings have a way of catching up to our choices. The more I exercise, the more I want to exercise. And so when you obey the Lord and you abide in him, even when you don’t feel like it, not only does that honor him but I have a hunch that your feelings are going to catch up over time.

Matt Tully
Where do you think that that sense that we can sometimes feel—I don’t feel like doing this, and so maybe it’s not worth doing it at all— where does that come from? Because I think when you do apply it to other things, like exercise or taking care of our kids, we intuitively get that we still have a responsibility to do these things and actually it’s still good and admirable. It’s maybe even, in some ways, more admirable to do things even when we don’t want to do them because we know it’s the right thing to do and it’s good for us or good for others. We don’t think that way often when it comes to reading the Bible or even other spiritual disciplines.

Kristen Wetherell
I think we might struggle with this in the spiritual realm because it’s the spiritual realm. We’re walking by faith here in this life and on this earth, not by sight. And it’s hard to keep coming to someone that I cannot see with my own two eyes, who is working in my heart in an unseen way by his Spirit, whom I cannot see. We are visual, we’re tactile. We’re also very much influenced by our time and place. In our culture, seeing is believing, immediate gratification is king, feelings are truth—truth is not truth; feelings are truth. And so I think it is the great challenge of the Christian life. But the beauty of it is God has actually given me something that I can see—his words on a piece of paper. And what a beautiful thing to be able to recognize that this will be a struggle, and then push back against it and keep coming to his words and clinging to his words and asking him to be at work through his words and trusting that he is.

42:25 – How Do I Know When and If I Love the Word Enough?

Matt Tully
Maybe as a last question, someone writes in, “If God’s word is infinitely valuable, and no sinful person (like either of us) truly deserves its riches, can I really love it enough? And how would I know when and if I do love it enough?” It kind of goes back to the core idea of your book and hungering after God’s word. I think this person’s expressing just a sense of, How can we ever actually hunger after it enough, or is there a point where we know I’ve made it?

Kristen Wetherell
It makes me think of Paul’s words in Romans 11. It’s an exclamation when he says, “Oh, the depth of the riches and the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and how inscrutable his ways. Who has known the mind of the Lord?” I think you’re hitting on something really wonderful that at times I’m sure could feel frustrating to us, but it’s really wonderful. We will never exhaust the riches of the mind of God, which means we just can keep coming back and hearing from him and asking to be transformed in the renewing of our minds so that we think like him. So will we ever love hearing from him enough? Will we ever hunger fully in this life? I think the answer is probably no. Our capacity has been seriously inhibited by sin, but can we hunger more? Can we love more? Can we grow? Yes. And that is great news. So what are some indications that we’re growing? I think that was part of the question. How can we know if we’re growing in love? I would say you’re drawn to God—a living person, the person of Christ, not just to a book. I’m coming to the word because I want you, Lord. Not just, again, checking the box.

Matt Tully
Not just knowledge of the books of the Bible.

Kristen Wetherell
Yeah, you feel hungry, especially when you’re away from it. Have you ever felt that lack when you’re in a season of the newborn phase or a season of intense sickness, or whatever it may be, you feel the lack. Something is missing. You’re deeply hungry. You find your thoughts, your words, your decisions, your actions are being increasingly governed by the word. You’re more aware of God’s presence with you as you’re reading, even throughout the day. We talked about meditating, growing in the awareness that he is God and he is near. Does worldly input and do worldly voices become less appealing to you and less influential upon you? I think those are several questions we could ask, but I love the heart behind that question. It’s just such a sweet thing that his word is inexhaustible.

Matt Tully
That’s why I love the core metaphor that you have of God’s word being this feast that we hunger for. It’s the idea of God’s word is this feast that just keeps on satisfying us, and our appetite for it can just keep growing. And actually, ironically, the more we eat of it, the more we want to eat more. That’s such an encouraging thought, as all of us struggle to make this a priority, to make these habits, to hunger after God’s word more than we do today.

Kristen Wetherell
He satisfies the longing soul and the hungry soul. He fills with good things. That’s a promise.

Matt Tully
Kristen, thanks so much for answering some of these questions that we received, and hopefully it’s an encouragement to many of the people listening today.

Kristen Wetherell
Oh, I sure hope it is. Thanks so much.


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