A few weeks ago, our church and Churchill UMC had a trivia challenge night. It was a really nice evening, which consisted of some good food (of course, we're Methodists), good company and some good old fashioned fun. The trivia wasn't all bible related, but covered a wide range of topics; however, there were various bible or faith based questions as well. Some of the bible questions were "way out of my league", but many of the answers I knew. However, there were a few I didn't know, that I thought I should have and I felt somewhat embarrassed inwardly that I didn't. Over the rest of that night and even a few days later, it still sort of bugged me. Eventually I forgot about it and moved on.
Then one night, while reading the book of Judges, I had a little revelation. I thought about where I was a few years ago regarding the bible and where I am now. Yes, I have a long way to go regarding my knowledge of the bible, but darn it, I've come a long way too!! Cheese, I'm reading Judges!
Over the next week or so, I began to see a post developing for this blog, with many different thoughts popping in and out of my head. I thought about how much my life has changed for the good, how much my faith has grown and how much stronger it has become, primarily because of the profound affect of God's word.
I thought about how God's word completely turned my life upside down. It was like He picked me up, turned me over and started shaking me and over the past three years or so, He shook out a lot of stuff that for years had been holding me back and weighting me down. I even thought about a recent message Vicky delivered about being enough. After all of that, I can honestly say that I am Ok where I am right now with the bible. OK, but by no means satisfied.
Though being enough is good for now, I know it's not good forever. And that is what I hope this message conveys to any of you that might feel like I do sometimes about the bible. It's OK if we don't know what Peter or Paul's names were before they were changed, or how many loaves or fish, or Jesus' hometown, or how many books are in the bible, or what books are in the Old and New Testaments, etc.
What's important is that we're in the word. At first, maybe occasionally, then over time, more regularly and eventually and hopefully, on a daily basis.
What's important is that we're allowing the word of God into our heart, soul and lives. Allowing it to wash over us and run through us. We might not remember everything, but does the spirit of the message affect how we live our lives, how we treat and serve others and how we honor God? I believe that's what's important.
Whether we can quote chapter and verse, or explain various parables, should be the least of our worries, especially if you're just coming to the word. Do we hope that as we read more, we will learn more, remember more and be more well rounded regarding our bible knowledge?
I sure hope that's what we're all striving for, but until then, we need to quit being so hard on ourselves. Feelings of ineptitude, or lack of "bible smarts" can keep people away from the book. I should know, because for most of my life, I didn't read because "I didn't get it", or "it just didn't do anything for me." Trust me, that isn't what God wants.
We shouldn't worry about how little we know and how much it seems like everyone else knows. In time and with God's guidance, it will come. Just like everything else in life, we can't be perfect with our bible knowledge and reading, but I have found that the more I pray for God's guidance prior to reading the bible, the more I get out of it.
So take a minute, or a few minutes and talk to God before you read. Ask Him to reveal to you what it is He wants you to see and hear prior to reading. Ask Him how He wants you to apply His word to your life and how He wants you to use it to further His kingdom and spread the gospel. Or find the prayer words that work best for you.
Then as you read, allow His words to come into your heart and soul and truly listen to their message. Speaking from experience, it will make a difference. When you can feel God's presence with you as you're reading, it can be an extremely liberating and inspirational moment. It's almost like He's sitting right next to you, turning the pages for you. We can't do it alone, this includes reading the bible, but anything can be done with and through God. As Matthew 19:26 says," with God, all things are possible."
Dave is the Discipleship Czar at Girard 1st. His unofficial title was given because of his love for Christ, and his consistent encouragement for people in their spiritual walk.