What Do You Do When Scripture Feels Dry Or Lifeless?

“I feel lifeless, and I continue to feel lifeless when I am in Scripture.”

The psalmist wants to be satisfied in the Lord, and remembers the time when the Lord was close, but now life is misery and that former experience feels far from him. It turns out that the person who feels so parched and far away has been unintentionally plagiarizing the experience of the psalmist.

 

This question is among those that have been coming to CCEF in advance of our 2018 conference on Scripture.

Given this question, most of us would start with, “Please, tell me more,” or perhaps, “What’s up?” Without knowing the direction of such a dialogue, let’s assume that the person is actually reading Scripture and Scripture seems to be yielding very little.

First thought: This person is reading Scripture, even when Scripture has the same impact as that of an old phone book. What could be more impressive? The person knows where to find water and is drinking. Perhaps he or she hears stories about how others are so emotionally uplifted by Scripture and now guilt is layered on this struggle. The reality, however, is that the normal Christian life can sometimes be a slog, and Scripture is filled with words to an ancient world that are hard to bring into today.

Second thought: The person remembers a time when Scripture was lively. Perhaps his or her reading schedule has taken that turn into the minor prophets, endless lists in Numbers, or inscrutable Levitical laws, and it is time to get into the Gospels for a spiritual breather. But something has changed for this person, and advice about a new reading plan doesn’t capture it. The person is saying, “feel lifeless, and I continue to feel lifeless when I am in Scripture.”

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