As a child, my free time was spent reading. Even as my life increased in responsibility during high school, I made time for literature, mostly fiction. In college, the world of nonfiction was opened to my mind and I adored this newly discovered facet of the written word. That love didn’t end when I got married, nor when I had children, three of them. I have always made time to read.
During high school, I held an afternoon job doing paperwork for a financial planning company. One summer, the regular receptionist went on vacation. I had a memorable conversation with her temp. This middle-aged woman had teenage children and commented on my pulling a novel out of my bag to read while I waited for my ride.
“I used to read so much, but I never have time for it anymore. My life is too busy. I can’t even remember the last time I sat down to read a book.”
Voracious reader that I was, I was shocked and horrified. I made an internal vow that I would never, seriously never, allow my life to become so busy that books were crowded out of my life.
I have thought about that vow throughout the years and have always kept a book by my side. Sometimes fiction, mostly non-fiction, I have always been reading.
Recently, our pastor preached a phrase that has stuck with me: “What you ingest, you become.” The Spirit used this to convict me. In the words of Paul, “‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up.”
For years, I have literally kept a book by my side and read any chance I could get. Bathroom breaks, waiting rooms, kitchen counter, living room couch. And a book always by my side.
Now, I have not been reading trashy romance novels, filling my mind with poison. I have been reading books about nutrition, health, spiritual life, being a better parent. These topics and books are all good and worthy to read and study.
But, at the same time I was reading these admirable subjects, I was neglecting to study my Bible. I wasn’t ignoring my Bible, but out of balance in what I was ingesting. Instead of consuming mostly fruits and vegetables, I was eating a lot of candy and cake. Too many carbs and not enough protein.
I do not believe my love of reading is sinful. However, if I want to become a wholehearted disciple of Jesus, the bulk of my literature diet needs to be his Word. If I want to become like Jesus, I need to ingest his Word.
Since receiving this conviction, I have swapped out my book on the counter for my Bible on the counter. Instead of cracking open my latest examination of nutrition while I am sitting down to nurse my son, I pull over my Kindle version of the Bible.
It’s true! Instead of obsessing over the salt content in my canned soup, I am contemplating how Jesus taught his disciples. Instead of recounting the details of the latest Duck Dynasty memoir I’ve read, I am turning over the fervor of the early church and how that relates to our small group Bible study.
Here is my pleasant discovery. The more that I read the Bible, the hungrier I become for it. What you ingest, you become.