A suspicious heart

By Jessica Brodie

Deep inside my good-girl heart, there’s another side that is deeply curious and questioning—and, I hate to admit, occasionally a tad bit suspicious and distrustful.

I’m fessing up: That suspicious side is the one that prompted me to start reading the Bible. Deep down, I think I wanted to make sure patriarchal society wasn’t bamboozling me. I wanted to read this stuff for myself.

Don’t get me wrong—I’ve loved all the pastors I’ve ever had. And I’ve always fiercely believed in God. But at some point, it hit me that most of the things I knew about the Word of God came third-hand. I had a Bible and read it at times, and I’d looked up some of the things I had deep questions about, but I wasn’t enough of a “real” Bible reader to be able to say definitively that every sermon I heard was 100 percent true.

One day, I was listening to a pastor talk about a text, and I realized something important: God had gifted me with a brain. A really great one, in fact! God also gifted me with the ability to analyze literature, do investigative journalism, and discern truth.

So why wasn’t I looking at God’s Word with the same sharp eye? Why wasn’t I using the brain He’d given me to explore and read for myself what was in there? Why was I, a thinking and strong woman, just accepting what was handed me without looking for myself?

Now, before you start giving me the conspiracy-theory stink eye, let me assure you: I really didn’t think I’d find a bunch of lies when I read the Bible cover to cover. I’m a woman of faith, after all. But it just bothered me that I was being spoon-fed information about my Lord without knowing it intimately for myself. That just didn’t seem fair—or right, or respectful, or honorable.

And so I set out with that rebellious and curious streak to read the Bible my way. I didn’t follow a special “how to read the Bible” plan or anything. I simply prayed that God would help me understand what I was reading, and then I took the plunge.

Now, the Bible doesn’t read like a lot of the novels I enjoy. It took some time to get accustomed to the language, even reading the Common English Bible, a modern translation. But I persisted. I made it a habit, trained my brain, just like I’ve trained myself to run a 5K or handle any other discipline.

And eventually, I read the Bible all the way through. Then I read it again. Today, I typically don’t let a day go by without reading it. It’s become a habit, a foundation, the way I start my day and “armor myself up” for all God would have me do.

Even with a master’s in literature, I’ve never been gifted at being able to quote famous lines. I’m still not very good at being able to quote Scripture, either. Yet I feel the change. God’s Word has taken root in me!

In fact, God’s Word now courses through my veins. I have a sense of ownership because I’ve read it. It’s a fierce, righteous pride—I did this. I read it for myself. I didn’t just accept what was handed me, but I read it and investigated it and found it to be true.

So for those who know you need to start reading the Bible, who’ve been feeling that nudge but just can’t seem to jump in, I offer my own story in case it helps.

My distrust and suspicion and rebelliousness might’ve been what led me, but as it says in Scripture, that’s OK, for “We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 CEB).

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