My mother would sit on my bed and read it to me. The experience is much less about the story line or the plot, but the experience of the book - turning pages, my mother's voice; its changing cadence and emphasis, depending on the character. When she read to me I could hear the wind in the willows.
When I started to read, I had some childhood favorites: Little Toot, Winne the Pooh, Harold and the Purple Crayon, and The Little Engine that Could. I can hear that words "I think I can, I think I can." as if I was there in my upper bunk, reading by flashlight. I loved Dr Seuss too.
My mother used to take us to The Channel Book Store on the Yale campus. I guess it's gone now - probably a Borders or something. We often went to the library where I would quietly scan the shelves of books looking for one that caught my attention. I loved the books, and after I got saved, I used to go to a book store called Amazing Grace. I had a stint of unemployment, and I went as often as I could to look, to read, and to fellowship.
For me, books and magazines were my Internet. I wanted to know everything that I could about the subjects that interested me: hockey, motocross, skiing, mechanics, music, photography, Christianity, and later computers. At my first computer school I managed to plow through 3,000 pages of software manuals during a 12 week class.
What seems amazing to even me, is that I had such a hard time reading. I failed English and/or Reading 9 of my 12 years of education. I had dyslexia which no one did anything about it. The teachers laughed at some of my transpositions - they always seemed to make a funny word. On occasion my wife also finds it amusing.
I still liked books - and collected a lot of them. I had 12 versions of the Bible, 4 of which I read in two years.
I still really like the Bible, and I enjoy reading it - especially the Message. I have different versions that I use for different reasons. For many years I memorized verses in the Revised Standard - a throw back to my studies at Bethel. I studied the D. L. Moody Bible series and I used the King James version for that. I attended a Southern Baptist Church in the 90's and we used the New International Version there. At my next church we used the North American Standard, and I read the Amplified Bible for devotions. I went to ministry school and there, we used the New King James version. My Online Bible turned me on to Greek and Hebrew. And I had an audio Bible as well.
For many years I thought that I could gain a lot of knowledge about the Bible and become an expert by studying it and reading it. I went to conferences, read books by the most educated Christian scholars and heard hundreds of sermons too!
I actually became a worshipper of the Bible, not the God reveled in it. I could spout Bible like a gushing fire hydrant.
The problem with being a "Bible spouter" is that you have to be intellectual, legalistic, or arrogant - or some combination of the three. And one day you meet up with someone that is grounded in the word, not stuck in some religious interpretation. Then you are done - well done. Their insights are God's insights, not something they learned from another Christian. The Pharisees were legalistic, and Jesus rebuked them for intellectualizing the law.
The parts of the Bible that I am certain of are the ones that God himself has revealed to me. As Jesus opened the eyes of the disciples to the very fact that He was the Messiah of the Old Testament, God has opened my eyes to facets of truth that are important to me and MY relationship with the Creator.
A lot of folks ask questions such as this: "How do you know which is the correct interpretation or version of the Bible?" My answer, the one that brings YOU close to Jesus in a way where YOU can hear his voice. I know, because my relationship is with Jesus, not with the Bible. Reading different versions helps me better understand the intent of the writers and interpreters, but it may not tell me what God is saying to David.
If a verse or passage is not illuminated to us, and opened in our spirit, we are simply engaging in debate, opinion, and theological argument where Christianity becomes a philosophy. What we need is for the eyes of our hearts to be opened, and to be like the Bereans, looking into the word for ourselves. In the process of searching for it like silver, we are likely to enjoy rhema (living word) - hearing God's voice.
Personally, I think it's hard to understand the Bible, but what I have found is that God makes it easy - well if I have faith. I often challenge verses that seem pretty main stream. I want to make sure what I am being taught is the truth. I go after the versus and passages that others say are difficult.
In the end, there isn't going to be a written test. He is not going to ask us if we figured it all out. He is not going to mention our fancy-dancy leather Bible case, or perfectly straight underlines and high-lights. He isn't going to ask you if you read it, He'll want to know if you lived it. And then Jesus will look into your heart and mine to see if His word is there beneath the seal of the Holy Spirit.
How about you, what's your process for understanding the truth of the word of God? How do you hear the wind?