Why Did I Underline That?

Every believer should have a plan to read their Bible regularly. This one spiritual discipline will give you a more profound knowledge of God and his word, a better understanding of theology and help you grow spiritually. For the last nine years, I have developed my own plan, and I read through the Bible in about 18 months.

Each time I complete a journey through the Bible, I purchase a new Bible to read the next time. Occasionally I pick a different English translation, and sometimes I use a study Bible to help with my reading. Then I take the old Bible that I had just finished and move it to my pile that I use for sermon and lesson preparation, public speaking and any other use that comes along.

Frequently I will pick up one of my old Bibles to read, and I notice that I have underlined or highlighted something while I was on my reading plan. I will look carefully at what jumped out at me during that phase of my spiritual journey and wonder, “Why did I underline that?” I mean, what was I thinking? That statement that seemed so profound to me that I took out my pencil and drew a line under it now appears to be another random statement that has no unique value.

This experience reminds me of another passage of scripture. Hebrews 4:12 says in the New International Version, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Much of this scripture is familiar to someone who grew up in Church. As a young boy, my Sunday School teacher held “sword drills.” The Bible was our sword, and we were to look up whatever passage he announced. The first one to the verse was the winner and often received some prize.

The part of this passage that is easy to read past are the first words. “The word of God is living and active.” Wait, what? How can a book that was written on paper be active?

The truth is that God can speak to us through the words of the Bible in new and personal ways every time we read it. One season as I am reading I may be struggling personally, and God uses his word to speak to me through a particular passage. The next time I might be hurting from loss, and God speaks to me differently as I read through it.

One primary reason to read and reread the Bible over and over again is to receive what I need for that moment in time. Yes, it is still truth whether it touches my life or not. The sweet spot of spending time in the Bible is when I hear the voice of God using his truth to speak to me today. It may touch my heart and soul so much that I take out a pencil and underline it. I might even make a note in the margin.

I find a simple pleasure in reading the Bible and seeing those strange places where I underlined a sentence that means nothing to me now. It reminds me that the word of God is living and active and it is still touching lives today. Maybe he wants to speak to you today, take a little time to read and see what you hear. Be sure and have your pencil ready.

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