This post is by Jen Stanbro.
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1
There are so many ways to approach studying the Bible. Of course, we are all beautifully different, so naturally we’ll have varying preferences. I’m sure plans like studying the whole Bible in one year have great benefit to the personality with whom this method fits. I, however, have attempted to read the whole Bible in a year on more than one occasion, and for my personality and the seasons of life during which I’ve attempted it, this method yielded the least.
I often found myself confused, trying to understand large, laborious sections of Old Testament scripture without having the time to really delve into the historical context and spiritual implications. Then, abruptly I’d have to shift gears to cover chapters in the New Testament that often carried deep meaning, revelation, and application to my life, but by the time I got through it all, there were no more available minutes to reflect, meditate, pray over, or absorb the fullness of all I had consumed. I had only the time to check the box and feel a marginal sense of accomplishment. To what end?
I think of reading God’s Word like digging for living water. My soul is thirsty and looking for water on a vast expanse of land. I plan to dig up the entire property in a year. Every day, I grab a shovel and dig, but I have so much ground to cover, there isn’t time to dig too deep. Perhaps the earth is hard in some places and more difficult to dig, so I only get a few inches down and then have to move on to meet my daily quota. Some days, I fall behind, compounding the digging for the next day, which leads to rushed, even shallower digging. By the end of the year, maybe I’ve made it through my entire property but there are no wells of water.
For me, hurrying over the scriptures is like this. It’s all too easy to fall into reading God’s Word for the sake of the checklist. Getting through the Word is the goal, rather than investing the time and attention to let the Word get through us. Of course, the Word of the Lord doesn’t return void, but if our methods don’t allow for our hearts to be penetrated, we may find ourselves coming up dry.
Nowadays, I choose a spot, and keep driving my shovel deeper, refusing to leave until the water is reached. There’s time to pray, inviting the Holy Spirit to bestow wisdom and understanding. There’s time to pause and ponder. Time to listen and to write, to research if the passage necessitates it. All this digging doesn’t have to be done in a day because there is no deadline. The goal is showing up ready to dig. The goal is meeting with the Lord at the dig site, every day. Often a passage will require lingering for a while, and it’s nothing short of delight to strike water that refreshes, truths that seep into the dry places and nourish. Because I’ve excavated the expanse of God’s Word in this way, it feels like a deep river flows in my soul, like John talks about in John 7:38.
How do you read God’s Word? Do you ever find yourself reading without really understanding quite what the Lord wants you to receive in that particular spot? Park there and keep digging. Time spent on a single passage that yields a permanent source of water is better than time spent glossing over the entirety of the Bible but barely making it to moist earth. God’s Word is for you. Dig deep. Strike water. Be refreshed every day.
Jen Stanbro is the singer/songwriter behind the Hello Mornings podcast theme song, “God Day.” She loves to hear the truth cancel out the lies and see love overcome fear. Her heart aches for the oppressed and marginalized, and she seeks to reignite God’s holy fire in the hearts of His people to love courageously like Jesus.
Photo by Frank Albrecht on Unsplash
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