I heard it many times growing up. “Your daily Bible reading is your daily manna. Yesterday’s reading won’t suffice for today. Read the Bible every day to receive fresh bread of life.” I never questioned it.
Until recent years. Several things brought me to the point of questioning this oft-repeated maxim.
For one thing, during some significant trials, the rich food that I gained from one day’s Bible reading sustained me for many days when I was unable to read the Bible.
For another thing, I began to see that in the “Steps to Knowing the Word of God”—that is, hear, read, study, memorize, meditate, and apply—some crucial concepts were missing. Drastic, gaping holes.
But most importantly, I read John 6. I really read John 6. And there, in a passage that I’d probably read hundreds of times, I finally realized that my daily manna is not the Bible.
He says it clearly, plainly, over and over. “I am the Bread of Life. I am the Bread from Heaven. I am the Living Bread. I am the True Bread.”
I cried out to God, “Lord, what in the world does this mean? How am I supposed to receive the manna of Jesus? How can I eat His flesh and drink His blood?” For days I read and prayed and read and prayed, crying out to God.
I knew my Bible reading had something to do with it. It had to. After all, I can’t even know who the Living Word is outside of the vision of Him I see through His written Word.
As I read and prayed, I remembered the indictment in Hebrews 4 against the Israelites in the wilderness: “the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” I knew that the word “mixed” there was the same word used for the process of digestion that breaks down food so that it can be sent as nourishment to all parts of the body.
And then I saw. As the written Word is ingested, the Living Word can be digested. But only with the digestive juices of faith. I must read with a heart actively believing, seizing on truth. This is what transforms the written Word in my head to the Living Word pulsating in my very life.
The Bible reading that sustained me for days afterwards? Through Colossians I had received a clearer vision of Jesus, and in the darkness and difficulty of the following days I was able to close my eyes and focus my heart once again on Him.
The drastic gaping holes? Crying out to God for understanding, rather than simply relying on my own intellect and assuming God would help me. Believing what I read, with passion rather than passivity. Do you say these go without saying? I think not. How can absolute imperatives go without saying?
For years I followed the hear-read-study-memorize-meditate rule without crying out for understanding, for a gripping of my heart. For the most part I believed, and God did certainly work in my heart through His written Word, but the faith was more passive than active. When I began to approach the Word with an active, desperate faith, I began to see Him work in my life in new ways.
And now, when I come to the Word of God, instead of my old intellectual “This-is-God’s-message-to-me-and-by-jiminy-I’m-gonna-learn-it” approach, I come to it with longing to see the beauty of Jesus Christ, to be filled with the love and power and joy of Jesus Christ, to experience a life of bringing glory to God through Jesus Christ.
He is our True, Living Bread from Heaven.