Creative Bible Time: Use Your Own Words
I try to read my Bible every day, but sometimes I can fall into a rut. The reading becomes an empty part of my routine and I do it just to do it. When I fall into a rut, it can seem like a good idea to just quit – but it so important to keep going! So when those times come (and they do inevitably come), instead of giving up, I try to switch up my routine and spark a little life back into my quiet times with God.
Sometimes it’s a matter of picking a different book of the Bible to read or finding a new devotional that speaks to the season I’m in. But sometimes I like to get a little creative!
For creative types, doing things like this are fun and exciting, and sometimes just a natural part of our time spent with God. But if you’re one of those who don’t identify as a “creative person”, don’t let this intimidate you! There is no talent required – it’s just something a little out of the ordinary to try connecting with God and His word in a different way.
In A Rut
A few years ago when I was doing missions overseas, I was struggling a lot with being tired and worn out. Physically, emotionally, spiritually – I was exhausted. But during these times of exhaustion, God continually brought me back to Psalm 23. It seemed cliche, until I realized that, despite being maybe a bit of an overused passage, it is still God's word. He can use it to speak to me and encourage me. And there is so much solid truth and encouragement in these six verses. Being a popular verse doesn’t detract from its meaning and significance – it enforces it. Because it sounds over-familiar, sometimes we have to dig a little more to get to the gold.
I wrote my own version of the Psalm (using NIV) during one of my quiet times on that trip.
My 23rd Psalm
The Lord is my shepherd. I am a part of his flock and I am valuable to him. He watches over me and sees everything that is going on around me. He provides shelter and food and water and everything that I need. He protects me from dangerous terrain and from predators lying in wait to attack me.
With him I lack nothing. When I am with him, there is nothing that I want. I am provided for in every way. In him I am completely whole.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters. He takes me to a beautiful place of rest when I have become too weary. He leads me to places that are clean and fresh, places of renewal.
He refreshes my soul. When my very soul is worn out, he brings new life and strength. He restores the tired and injured and broken parts of my soul. He makes me new.
He guides me along the right paths for his name's sake. He is my perfect guide. He knows the paths along which he desires to take me. He leads me through my decisions and directs me through life. He guides me to bring glory to his name. By being a good guide, he is true to his character. When I follow him, he can use me to do his work and declare his name.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, where all dark things close in on me, and even death casts its shadow around me, I will fear no evil. The darkness cannot overcome me, for you are with me. You are light; you drive away the darkness. Your perfect love casts out fear. I am not afraid when you are with me.
You are equipped with your rod to fight off evil and your staff to hold me close to you. I am comforted for I know you are my protector and defender.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You provide abundantly and extravagantly for me, and you invite me to come sit down and partake of all the good things you have prepared for me. Even when I am surrounded by enemies and danger and opposition, I do not have to run. I can enjoy your goodness in all situations.
You anoint my head with oil. You bless me with all good things. You have marked me to be holy and set apart. You have called and prepared me for a special purpose.
My cup overflows. You fill me to the brim with your goodness and keep on pouring. I am overwhelmed by your love.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life. There is not a single day of my life that I will have to go without you. You are always with me. Your plans for me are good and full of love. You made me with goodness and love, you guide me with goodness and love, you lead me to goodness and love. You cause my life to be overflowing with goodness and love.
During my life I can enjoy glimpses of your presence in the love and goodness you give to me. And, when my days are over, I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. I am his daughter, whom he loves, and he has prepared a place for me to be in his presence for all of eternity.
Use Your Own Words
So, as you read an example of above, one of the ways I use to get creative with my Bible time is to rewrite a passage in my own words.
This isn’t about changing the words of a verse to make it mean what you want it to mean. This is about putting things into your own words to:
- make sure you really understand what is being said
- apply it to your own life
Putting things into your own words is a great learning and study tactic. If you can phrase a statement your own way, that means you really understand the meaning behind it.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters. – Psalm 23:2
This doesn’t mean that God is literally leading us on a path next to fields and rivers because He really loves nice scenery (although He does love to show off His beautiful creation). So I rewrote it to reflect its deeper meaning to me:
He takes me to a beautiful place of rest when I have become too weary. He leads me to places that are clean and fresh, places of renewal.
True understanding then brings you to the next step, which is applying it to your life. Which is kind of the main point of reading the Bible anyways? Some parts can be a bit tricky to immediately understand what they mean to us personally, but putting a verse into your own words can help you find that personal meaning, too.
The Lord is my shepherd. – Psalm 23:1
We know Jesus as the “Good Shepherd”, but what does that really mean? How does that describe who Jesus is and the relationship he has with us? What does Jesus being a shepherd mean to us?
I am a part of his flock and I am valuable to him. He watches over me and sees everything that is going on around me. He provides shelter and food and water and everything that I need. He protects me from dangerous terrain and from predators lying in wait to attack me.
Your Turn to Get Creative
You don’t have to be a super talented writer to put the Bible into your own words. You just have to...use your own words.
You can do like I did, and put each phrase or sentence into your own words, adding as much or as little detail as you’d like. Write it as a poem with rhyming couplets. You can write it as a letter talking to God, or a letter to yourself, reminding yourself of God’s truth. It can be as simple or as complex as you’d like. Just get creative!
What creative ways do you like to use to get into the Bible?
If you give this method a try, I’d love to hear from you! Comment below or email me letting me know what passage you used, and I’d love to read what you write if you’re willing to share.