Have you ever wondered what to do when Bible study feels overwhelming? This past week I counted up the Bible studies I had done and realized I had more faithfully been in God’s Word than I had been in 3 years. With my youngest now almost 3 my energy and availability is shifting into a season of higher capacity.
I’ve found in my life there are 3 different levels of space to study the word of God. For me they have been fully burned out, with moderate capacity, and “all the time in the world” to study. My “all the time in the world to study” was before I had kids, but in Bible studies I’ve attended it seems that stage comes back toward the end of life.
Newborn days are one, but not the exclusive time in a woman’s life that may be a struggle. Your exhaustion may come from a demanding job or caring for elderly parents. But when you’re already burnt out it’s impossible to add things that you even once found to be beautiful.
The thing is Instagram posts only show the “All the time in the world” stage. And when people talk about “Bible Study” that’s often what they describe. So what does Bible study look like at every stage, and how do we continue to grow to know God and love him, even when the wheels of life are falling off. What does it look like to be held by His Word rather than overwhelmed by it.
Here are some things I’ve loved doing in each of the three stages.
Stage One: The Exhausted
Just because you’re tired doesn’t mean you can grow to love God more. God isn’t a slave driver with a manual to memorize. He wants to invite you into the peace that a relationship with him brings. We live at a time in history when being in His word is easier than ever. (If you feel overwhelmed I think this other article i wrote will bring comfort!)
There are so many audio resources! If you only have time for 5 minutes “The Bible Recap” is a great way to get to know more about the Bible. Having these building blocks in place when you have the time again to study will pay off, plus they are really interesting. If you have more time, listening to a chapter of the Bible being read is a great way to get in God’s word while rocking a baby, or doing dishes.
There is so much music that is full of truth and scripture. I found having a Morning Worship playlist put my heart in the right place to parent. One of my favorites was to listen to the Children’s Catechism playlist when my kids were tiny. I didn’t grow up with a catechism, and so hearing it over and over helped me sort out some of my own theology but quietly in the background sort of way.
I remember one day it was playing in the background at that point it had already played 100 times when suddenly one of the questions just hit differently. Like a piece of the puzzle, it fell into place and allowed me to love God and worship him more in that small moment. Don’t underestimate the power of simple background habits.
Usually, when I’m in this stage of life I have little to no time to read. A friend encouraged me to write down verses during seasons of plenty to look back on when I was in a season of crisis. She called them Hope cards and the concept stuck for me. If you’re already in crisis and don’t know what to write. I’ve made mine printable, so you can have the ones I used.
Stage 2: The Clouds are Clearing
After my third baby turned two my capacity shifted. Suddenly it wasn’t as hard to wake up early. I wanted to think more deeply about things and read again. Since I homeschool I didn’t have time during the day to go to a study, but I did want to do something.
I kept trying different studies, but none of them stuck because I would have one week where I could study every day, and then the next everyone got sick and I didn’t have time to study at all. This meant one week didn’t have lessons long enough, and the next I never even go to it. Usually after two weeks I gave up and never returned, because I just felt so bad about how “behind” I was.
Enter my discovery of “At His Feet Studies”. Instead of being divided up into “weeks” or “days” they are simply just labeled “study”. This means you can do one “study” per week or one per day. You can do 5 “studies” in a week, and then pick it up 2 weeks later and do another study. Because they don’t have a time limit I never felt behind and just kept trudging forward. Because of that, I’ve worked my way through Lamentations, Galatians, a Holy Week study, and now I’m headed through Luke.
If you have some time, but not all the time in the world I recommend you check it out.
Also, it seems silly and frilly, but having a pretty Bible Study notebook helped me so much. I think part of it was because it was so expensive I feel compelled to see how much I can completely fill it up in a year!
Stage 3: All the time in the world
This is the stage I can’t wait to have back. When It returns I want to do more of the “Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament” series. I did a couple with ladies from our church and watching how they notated things so carefully and did a bunch of side studies was so inspiring!
If you have a minute I’d love to have you comment below and let me know which Bible studies you’ve loved most!