Christians as Readers: A Personal Testimony

It is my conviction that Christians should strive to be readers. When I say something like that, I usually get a mixed reaction. Some people reading this will nod their heads vigorously up and down, while others will be going side to side. Others, however, may read that statement and think it’s a fine idea, but it doesn’t matter one way or another.

Over the next few weeks, I hope to show you that this statement is not only accurate but attainable for any Christian. In subsequent posts, I will be explaining the why, what, and how of reading. While these will not be exhaustive, I hope you will benefit nonetheless. If you are skeptical of my claim, I only ask you to be patient and hear me out. Although, if you are one of those people, I find it highly ironic that you are choosing to interact with me by reading this post. Today I’d like to start this series by telling you why reading is important to me.

 

My Reading Journey

I have always had an interesting relationship with reading. As many already know, I have dyslexia (why did they make a word about a reading disorder so hard to spell?). Thus, I wasn’t an excellent student. In elementary school, I was one of the last, if not the last, in my class to learn to read, which led to a whole host of issues. I can’t even recall how often my parents had to drag me to tutoring so that I could keep up. Once I got to high school, I enjoyed school for the social parts but hated the academics. From the outside, I doubt anyone knew I had a learning disability or disliked school because 1) my mom did most of my homework and 2) public high school wasn’t that hard if you could regurgitate what they wanted on the test. But all through that time, I could probably count the number of books I read on one hand because I thought it was a useless skill.

It wasn’t until my first year of college that my dislike of reading came back to bite me. I quickly realized that memorizing answers for a test wouldn’t work anymore. I’d need to really read the material and interact with it. The problem? I had no idea or desire to do it. So, I tried what I tried in high school – I didn’t read the books and tried to fake it in class. I came very close to being put on academic probation for doing poorly in my classes and being kicked out of school. Trying to get around doing the work, I plagiarized and was caught (thank you, God, for the teacher who showed me mercy). I became more embittered throughout that year against school, academics, and higher education.

Basically, if you could summarize my view of books up through my first year of college, it was this: a waste of time when I had more practical things to do, at which I was better. I hated reading and was insecure around those who enjoyed it.

At the end of my freshman year of college, I was distraught, depressed, and aimless. I struggled academically and in many other areas in my life. While my dislike of school wasn’t the primary cause of my state of mind, it contributed greatly. As I returned home for the summer in a depressed state, I remembered that I had agreed to lead a Bible study for some middle school boys at a camp (a story for another day). Only two minor problems with this: First, I wasn’t a Christian. Second, I hadn’t read my Bible all that much. But I felt like I had nothing else good in my life, so I decided to give reading the Bible a chance.

I can’t recall what passage I was reading, but I can vividly recall what happened while reading. God opened my eyes. For the first time, my sin and the saving work of Jesus became real. Through reading His Word, God took out my heart of stone and gave me a heart of flesh. Through reading His Word, a dead man was brought to life. Through reading His Word, God showed me mercy. From that moment on, I devoured it, reading Scripture as often as I could.

Now, I’d like to say from there that I instantly fell in love with all kinds of reading. But that wouldn’t be true, and I don’t have time for the full story here. Overall, I still thought reading was a waste of time except for one book – Scripture. But thankfully, through many circumstances, God led me down a path of increased joy and pleasure in discovering the great mysteries found in books. And it all started because God showed me the joy and pleasure in His Word.

I love reading because God has used it both to save and grow me more to Himself. God, through reading, has made me a different man.

If you have a personal testimony of how God has used reading in your life, I’d love to hear it. Feel free to reach out to me at marty@bbckc.org.

Thanks for reading.