Naomi Reed: My reliance on God’s Word

— You can read Read the Bible with… Naomi Reed as part of Bible Society’s ‘Live light in 25 words’ campaign. See her devotions here.

As a cross cultural missionary, Naomi Reed found that she was far more aware of her need for God and his Word in her life.

Naomi and her husband Darren served for six years as missionaries in Nepal, where she worked at Green Pastures Leprosy Hospital and home-schooled their three sons.  She says, “As a cross cultural missionary, you’re still the same person, with the same struggles; you’re just using your gifts, experiences and skills in another culture. You still have the same walk with God, but it’s harder in another culture; there’s more pressure  but less support.

“You become more aware that you’re drowning and need God. I desperately needed to make sure I was reading the Bible and walking with him.”

Naomi Reed has been in the habit of  reading God’s word since first being astounded his love as a twelve year old school girl.

“I came to faith when I was invited to the Christian group at high school. I learnt that there was a God who loved me and who had given his son for my life. I was astounded by the love of God as a twelve year old, and every day since then.”

Naomi prayed and believed in God as her Lord and Saviour. Her friend gave her a Good News New Testament, and she read it every day, front to back, on her own.

“It was fantastic. It was just me and God. From the beginning I relied on God through his word, and my own personal walk with Him. It was all I had.”

From those early years, Naomi built a reliance on God through personal time in his word that served as a firm foundation later in her life, when she and her family struggled through seven monsoons and challenging conditions as missionaries in a remote village in Nepal.

“The Bible was central to everything,” Naomi says about living in Nepal. “Is hard living in another culture, with another language, and initially not knowing anyone, being away from all your support structures. It was only us and God, initially.”

“It forced me to spend time in the Bible daily. It was good for me.”

Naomi experienced the Bible in a whole new way, living in Nepal, in fellowship with Nelpali Christians. Amidst  civil war, extreme poverty, child abductions and serious illness, she read the Bible with Nepali Christians. In particular, Naomi remembers reading the Beatitudes with people who were suffering from all these trials of life, and they took on a deeper significance because of it. “To sit with them in the midst of the worst scenarios of life was profound, and a privilege.”

As she learnt the language, Naomi also read the Bible in Nepali, and gained different associations for familiar Bible passages, which gave her a whole new perspective.

“All the times that I’ve been alone, or times that are hard, the Bible has been central to my life, and God has spoken to me through it. I have been hungry for his word,” she says.

Yet returning to Australia and a western lifestyle presents a whole new set of challenges in living as a Christian and seeking God through his word. Naomi began writing in Nepal and has continued it since returning to Australia, as well as speaking engagements.

“Life here can be demanding and busy; not easy, but predictable. There are no bombs going off here, so I’m not relying on God out of desperation!” Naomi explains.

“I know I should read God’s word, but I think it’s harder to have a close walk with God in our society, where things are going smoothly. I’m more inclined to rely on myself, and I get lazy and distracted.”

Naomi reflects on how different it is to form a practice of reading the Bible in Australia to her life in Nepal, where there was so little technology available, “In Nepal, it’s so different – we were forced to sit down and read together.”

However, Naomi believes we shouldn’t complain about how different our hyper technological, distracting society is, here in Australia. Rather, she says, “We should be using everything we have here in the west to help us read the Bible regularly.” Naomi reflects on Deuteronomy 6:6-9, and God’s command through Moses that his people were to have his commands on their heart, to speak about them together and to have them up around them as daily reminders. She believes we are better equipped today to follow this command. “It’s amazing that thousands of years later we are actually in a better place to have the Scripture around us constantly, because we can use our technology to do so.”

For herself, Naomi loves to read large sections of the Bible at time, when circumstances allow it. “When we were camping in New Zealand for a month recently, I was able to read through all four gospels quite quickly. That was great, seeing how different things jumped out.”

Yet Naomi is very realistic about the difficulties that arise when trying to develop a daily Bible reading habit. “The day to day thing is the issue for me, as it is for all of us.”

“For me, it’s being able to get the tiny little bits of Scripture into my days. I have Bible verses on my desk, so I’m seeing at least tiny little bits that can speak into my life. These little bits will click me back into thinking in God’s perspective – I remember that he’s the Lord, he’s bigger than me, and that he’s redeemed me through Jesus.”

It’s this method of tiny little bits of the Bible in daily life that makes Naomi enthusiastic about Bible Society’s Bible reading campaign, running in October. Naomi  has written Bible devotions for the campaign, so that Christians can ‘Read the Bible with’ her during October. “The Live light in 25 words campaign is great, because it encourages Christians to start with reading just 25 words of the Bible a day. And when you sign up, these 25 words are emailed directly to you every day. This is such a great use of technology.”

“25 of God’s words are coming to us, where we are, in the midst of all the mess. We can use the technology as a tool; because we have so much other information that’s coming to us every day through technology, it’s good to have it give us what we actually need, God’s word, the most important thing.”

For those who seek to develop a habit but find it difficult, Naomi says that being hard on ourselves is not necessarily helpful, “We may need to give ourselves a bit of grace. There are different seasons of life, and our Bible reading habits won’t be the same throughout our life.” She thinks it’s important that we’re creative as to how to find the time and the means to get input from God’s word. “We can be creative – listening to the Bible on audio while ironing or in the car…it all depends with the demands in our lives.”

Naomi also thinks the campaign will help Australian Christians who may feel a sense of isolation in their faith. “There’s more community in the third world,” she says, recollecting her time in Nepal. “Here it’s easy to feel that we’re walking our own journey. Life is fragmented. So doing the Live Light Campaign together is fantastic. Thousands of Christians all around Australia reading the same chunk of the Bible gives the sense that we’re all together. There’s a sense of journeying together and encouraging each other.”

Naomi Reed began writing her  first book, ‘My Seventh Monsoon’, in Nepal, when she feared she may not make it through another 120 days of rain. The months of typing by candlelight helped her to see God’s purposes through different seasons. The sequel, ‘No Ordinary View’ won the ACBOY award, 2009 and ‘Over My Shoulder’ is a look at the impact of personality on cross-cultural mission. ‘Heading Home’ follows the family’s return to Australia and covers Naomi’s thoughts and reflections on the nature of home. ‘The Promise’ is a book  of 20 dramatic monologues (using Biblical female voices) that capture the sweep of God’s plans and promises for the world – from Genesis to Pentecost.

— You can read Read the Bible with… Naomi Reed as part of Bible Society’s ‘Live light in 25 words’ campaign. See her devotions here.