I used to read the Bible and find myself wondering the same thing: how do I apply this to my life? The Bible talks a lot about land, sheep, people living past 100 years old, and guys having a bunch of wives. You know what I don’t have? Land, sheep, or multiple wives. I for sure don’t know anyone who is over 100 years old. So why do I have to care about the Bible?
Honestly, I still have questions about the Bible most of the time. I read about people who, if they were alive today, I would have nothing in common with and would probably judge a little a lot. That’s because they mostly dealt with situations that are either outdated, super messed up and/or weird! I’m sorry, but telling your man he can get with your slave is not OK. (Talking to you, Sarai/Sarah.) That brings up another weird thing about the Bible. God changes people’s names and we just go with it. Am I the only one who needs a color-coordinated chart to keep up with these people? I can keep up with the Kardashians way easier than I can with the Israelites and the Jews, and the Kardashians aren’t just changing names, but gender too.
Jokes aside, I know the Bible is full of wisdom and lessons, but I can struggle relating those to my modern life. I’m super happy that it applied to everything thousands of years ago, but what about me and the questions I have? Most of the time I find myself frustrated and feeling like God is long overdue putting out the sequel. How am I supposed to live a good Christian life if the Bible didn’t talk about most of the things we deal with today? Like, where does Jesus stand on ghosting people? Or making out with strangers? Living with someone before you’re married? Can I cuss? (If I can’t, I’m forking screwed.) What’s the ruling on boob jobs? Mini skirts? Getting wine drunk at your church group?
Especially when it comes to the juicy stuff, I think anyone who follows Jesus or at least considers following him needs more. Personally, I would love a Ten Commandments on dating. A few “thou shall not” statements would go a long way. Without a specific teaching or lesson from Jesus on every issue that we face today, it’s easy to call it all grey areas. We might conclude it’s up to us to fill in the blanks. Frankly, that’s a lot of pressure. I want someone to tell me the rights and the wrongs. I don’t want to write the playbook; I just want to read it. Actually, I just want the SparkNotes on it. And then I still want to change things when I don’t like the rules. So where does that leave me?
Where’s The Index?
When my parents got divorced, everyone kept telling me to turn to God. I was encouraged to read the Bible, and I was told it would give me strength. I hated hearing that, but I finally got desperate enough to search for the answers everyone was sure the Bible had inside. When I read it, I was even more pissed. The Bible didn’t have a section on how to cope with divorce. Instead, it gave me all kinds of impossible to understand rulings on when you can get divorced. At 14, that left me confused. I believed I was reading a book that condemned my parents. I didn’t need that. I already knew they weren’t perfect and divorce sucked. I needed the chapter on how to get through it. What I got instead was disappointment.
When I said this to those who had sent me to the Bible, they were confused. I told them the Bible didn’t tell me squat about how to get through the divorce. There was no chapter on dealing with it. No person who talked about their parents going through it. No one in the Bible was like me. How am I supposed to feel understood and loved when God didn’t put a single person in the Bible that relates to my story? It made me feel even more out of place. Like that piece of furniture you keep moving from spot to spot because you don’t know what to do with it because it doesn’t belong. I didn’t belong.
It was then that someone told me what felt like the most abrasive two words I could have heard: Stop. Whining.
I was stunned. I couldn’t believe someone could tell 14-year-old bratty me to end my pity party. What happened to support? Where was my pass? I was annoyed. Worse, I was alone. I started reading the same stupid Bible again, thinking maybe I had missed a chapter or had a bad copy. There still was nothing on divorce. But there was Romans. It says,
__“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. (Romans 5: 3-4)__
God Really Loves Me. And You.
As I read that verse, my shoulders stopped slouching. My heart ached less. It was the first thing that I had read that actually applied to me. I even thought it might only apply to me. The more pages I turned, the more my curiosity grew to know what else the Bible had for me. At this point, I was intrigued. The Bible and I were flirting if you will, but I was still playing hard to get.
To be clear—I wasn’t reading the Bible every day. Honestly, not even every week. The truth is, watching One Tree Hill was still way more exciting than the Bible. I knew tuning into the Scott Brothers was a guaranteed one hour escape. I knew I would walk away satisfied. But when I began to realize the drama of their lives wasn’t fixing mine, I would find myself reading another paragraph in the Bible. I read because it made me feel like someone (shout out to God) had answers for me. There was no faking required to read the Bible. I just had to be willing to seek the answers inside.
The thing no one told me about seeking the answers though, is all the freaking questions that come with it. Now full of burning questions and needing explanations, I had no choice but to seek other people. I needed them to weigh in. Through those conversations, I realized God knew what he was doing. He knew I wouldn’t find everything I needed in the Bible. He knew I would need explanations and conversations that couldn’t happen alone. He put people in my life to love me through those questions and to help me by sharing their own. I realized the Bible wasn’t the only answer—encountering Jesus through the Bible and the people who know him was. Finally, I understood.
God wrote the Bible for you and me. It wasn’t that I was out of place, I was just looking in the wrong places. I realized there isn’t a chapter on divorce, but there is a verse for every case, every person, every story, and every pain. God gave us that. I realized God left a piece in there for every possible situation; you just genuinely have to seek to understand them.
Yes, the Bible still left a lot out. It hasn’t covered Tinder, sexting, dirty dancing, bar hopping, breadcrumbing, or crop tops. At least, not specifically. But it does talk about lust, drunkenness, loyalty, intentionality, and modesty. It still leaves some greyness. I still have moments of wanting the MNP (Modern Normal People) translation. That usually turns into a moment of realizing I need to do the work to find the verse that does speak to me. Even if the context of the verse has nothing to do with my situation. Then I have to talk to people about it! That’s the key: the asking questions with other people part.
The Bible gives direction. It gives hope, guidance, and if nothing else, the feeling that no matter what you are going through, someone has been through worse. We have a God who can redeem anything. It’s because He gave us people who are wondering the same things. Find them! Be their new best friend. Drink wine with them. Remember their birthday. Ask them what they are struggling with and what they want the Bible to say. Then figure out what you think the Bible already did say on it.
I still want to Bible to give it to me black and white, and it just doesn’t. It does give me 66 books and 31,102 verses for God to show up and meet me. With that many words, it’s impossible for none of it to speak to your situation.