My favorite form of exercise is running. However, due to some bad habits concerning diet and exercise that managed to creep into my lifestyle in the last couple of years, I’m out of condition. I am running again, just not as frequent or as enthusiastic as before. My current long distance run doesn’t even measure up to my previous short runs. Not to mention speed… the turtle wins every time! It seems the more I want to run and the harder I try, the worse the results. It’s frustrating, it’s exhausting and I wonder if it’s time to give up this once favorite form of exercise.
Last weekend, during another attempt to run longer and faster and lacking any great success, it felt as if the Lord whispered something in my ear… “Running when you are trying to get back in shape is like Bible study when you don’t know how or are out of practice.” What? Then it dawned on me…..
To build back up, I can’ try harder and faster…. It is methodical, it’s planned, it’s slow and steady with intervals of short sprints. It’s running at the right time with the right warm-up and preparation. It’s as much mental as it is physical. Then, as I obtain strength, speed and endurance are natural by-products.
JUST LIKE BIBLE STUDY
Many of us long to spend more time in the Bible. We want to know what it says and we want to understand it, so we plow ahead fast and furious and end up frustrated, exhausted and wondering if we should just give up.
Effective Bible study is approached the same way as training to run or for any other activity in which we wish to excel. It is methodical, it’s planned, it’s slow and steady with intervals of short sprints. Then, as God begins to open our hearts, eyes, and ears, as we meditate on his Word, we gain the endurance that comes with the knowledge and wisdom God has placed within our reach.
If we read the Bible at all, we often read our daily devotional or current reading plan just to be able to place that check-mark on our to-do list for the day. What happens when we do the dreadful thing and get behind? Well, of course, we read several days’ assignments all at once to catch up! It’s our duty after all to read the Bible in order to be spiritual, right? I know I’m alone here… am I?
What do we actually accomplish with this style of Bible reading because it sure doesn’t classify as “study”? Sure, God blesses us anyway when a Scripture stands out and meets our need at just the right time. He is faithful like that! But, at the end of the day, were we able to put what we read into action? Did the Lord reveal something to us as we read? Did it touch our heart or lead us to repentance? Did we leap for joy at the promises? Did we see an amazing attribute of our God? But most importantly, did we get a little closer to Him today?
Bible study is not a race. It’s not about how fast we can read or how often. Although reading the Bible through every year is great life plan, it’s not even about that. It’s not about how much we get out of the Bible, it’s how much of the Bible gets IN us. It’s not even about information or knowledge for the sake of knowledge. It’s about transformation. The Bible will teach us to live prosperous and successful lives, it equps us for all good work. It teaches us righteousness and above all, it brings us into an intimate relationship with the Author!
In summary, the TOOLS for a LIFETIME tip for today: Slow down.
Read smaller portions. It can even be one or two verses that you want to etch on your heart. Mediate on them (think about them). Take your time until you know them in your heart. It may take a week or more of reading the same passage over and over again. Remember, it’s not a race. Turn them into a prayer. Turn them into praise! If it’s a passage of history, ask God how it applies to you today. Ask Him to show you the timeless truth. Don’t read just to read. Read to be transformed.
Joshua 1:8 (NIV)
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Romans 12:2 (NIV)
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.