My seventh-grade math teacher put the teacher’s answer key in the back of the room. When we finished an assignment, we were supposed to go to the back of the room, correct our mistakes and write our grade on the top of our paper.
It was more fun to pass notes under the table to my boyfriend. Then, when the bell was about to ring, I would go to the back of the room and write in all the correct answers. Except for a couple, I would purposefully write them in wrong so that the teacher wouldn’t get suspicious.
I never got caught. And I thought I was clever. Until many years later when I was trying to figure out a tip on a dining receipt. Or at the grocery store, when I realized I didn’t know how to tell which ketchup was cheaper per ounce.
What I didn’t realize then was that even though I didn’t get caught, I failed the real test. The class wasn’t about a high grade, but training for the real world.
In my younger years, I saw the Bible as a list of dos and don’ts. Like the time I was up late making last-minute cookies for class the next day, and I dropped the entire bag of sugar on the kitchen floor. I thought God must be mad at me because I didn’t read my Bible that morning. My life was a system of rules I followed out of obligation. I thought the goal of a Christian was to do good things. But just like cheating to get an A in a class, that’s not how it works. The goal isn’t to do enough good so God will be pleased with me.
God wants a relationship with me. The Bible is a gift, a love letter of sorts. Now, when I open it, I don’t see a dictator, in heaven with a list of rules designed to restrain me and make my life boring. I see a God who cares about me and wants to know me.
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zeph. 3:17
He made me and knows how I’m designed. His Word is a road-map to a full and abundant life. Think about an awesome relationship you’ve had or wish you could have. Maybe it was a parent or a spouse. You delighted in them, and they delight in you. That is what God wants. He wants to delight in us and us in him.
Today, I’d encourage you before you open up your Bible to pray and ask God to show you more of who He is and how much He loves you. If you’re looking for a place to start reading, I recommend the book of John.