Water–the thing we all need and yet we often take for granted. With taps, faucets, and bottles of it all about us, we hardly ever consider its availability. But when it is scare, it becomes the most important thing. When you live in Arkansas a small running creek is no big deal; when you live in West Texas it’s a small miracle.
Last time, we discussed how God’s Word is like water, and how we so often deprive ourselves of it. (Or to paraphrase it more bluntly, I needed to be humble and confess how I had let Bible classes keep me from experiencing God for myself.) But now that we’ve seen how important getting into the Word for ourselves is, as well as the side-effects from letting ourselves get dehydrated from going without it, how do we go about actually taking–and wanting–a drink?
While it’s quite obvious I’m still far from having this all figured out, here’s some tips I’ve found:
1: Come to God’s Word With Proper Reverence
Water is a powerful thing. It gives life, yes, but it can also be immensely destructive. The same storm that brings rain for crops creates floods that destroy bridges; the same waves that bring the ship to shore can drive it against the cliffs; the same currents that bring warm water to the reef can push you into the rocks–both the help and the hurt spring from its strength. So every farmer, sailor, and scuba diver knows to to approach water, not with paralyzing dread, but with a certain amount of fearful reverence. With awe.
Do we give the Bible that kind of respect?
After all, it is powerful. It is the decrees of the Divine, the utterances of the Unchangeable, and the very communication of the Creator with his creation. It is able to make us “wise for salvation” (2 Timothy 3:15), to grow us in godliness, and to give us “knowledge of the Holy” (Proverbs 9:10).
Yet we treat it like it’s weak.
We often want to regulate it just to our assignments, or demand that it bow to us and give us a pithy lesson after a mere five minutes of cursory reading. But when we do these things, we diminish and dismiss it–and ultimately, we dishonor God.
Every sailor know if you underestimate the sea, she will destroy you. Every scuba diver knows that to ignore the currents is to imperil your life. And when we nullify the Bible’s power, we put ourselves in a treacherous place.
So approach the Word with awe. Be overwhelmed with the knowledge that God wants to communicate with you. Be amazed that God has laid out the plan of redemption and restoration, and then shared the script of it with us. Once we have a proper reverence for Scripture, we’ll be less likely to skip over it.
2: Don’t Abandon Your Own Devotions
You just did a whole module on 1st John–do you really need to read this one chapter through again in your own quiet time? You already know what’s in it. You’ve already analyzed, outlined, and summarized it for school. It’s just the same thing. Do you really need to spend time with it again?
Yes. Yes you do. Because you’re not doing the same thing.
Analyzing themes is good, doing historical research is important, and knowing the context of a passage is imperative. But they’re not the endgame. All our research, assessment, and outlines are so that we understand what God is truly saying. So that we see what the passage says–about who God is, about who we are, and about how we should live in light of the first two truths.
This one is the hardest for me. In the midst of study time, work time, and toddler time, it’s tempting to skip over Bible time, or maybe just replace it with the required Bible reading for my classes. But we can’t make our time with the Word optional, and we certainly can’t make it just an assignment. We can’t leave our knowledge as just academic; we can’t leave it just in our heads. It has to move down to our hearts, and personal devotions is how we do that.
James 1:22 urges us to “be doers of the Word, and not hearers only.” It would be useless to know the atomic structure of water, to be able to correctly identify the states of water, and even to work in a water bottling factory–if we never took a drink.
God is a God of learning, but he’s also a personal God, and wants our time with him to be more than just academic. So don’t abandon your own devotions in the midst of the busyness of life.
3: Meditate on the Word
The fact remains, we often don’t have much time for devotions. There’s only so much time before we have to go to school, or before the younger siblings wake up, or before lunch break is over. So how do we spend this time?
Often we approach it how we approach our academic work: we look up the information we are assigned (be that by our teacher or our daily reading plan), read just thoroughly enough to get the gist of the passage and perhaps summarize it, and then go about our way. And that’s fine for academic work, and often all that is needed. But that’s not how God’s Word works.
The Bible should saturate every part of our mind, giving it time for it to slowly soak through. But how can we do this in the midst of life? By meditating on it.
Now when I say meditation, don’t picture some man sitting criss-cross and murmuring ohhhhmmm, nor think it’s about silencing your mind to hear your “inner voice.” Neither of those are Biblical–they’re Eastern Mysticism or its New Age counterpart. That’s not what God calls us to. Biblical meditation isn’t about emptying your mind–it’s about filling it with Scripture. Joshua was called to meditate on it day and night (Joshua 1:8), thus ever returning his thoughts to God’s truth.
One of the best ways for us to do this is to memorize Scripture and review it throughout the day, but that’s not the only way. Write out passages on sticky-notes, and place them throughout the house. Set reminders on your phone with the verses. However you do it, find a way to meditate and mull over the Word of God, so that it can shape your mind.
God’s Word is like water, and if it is ever running through out minds, it will carve us into its pattern. “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11). The Bible keeps us from wickedness and leads us to goodness, and when we meditate on it, it will flow through our souls.
“Hydrate or die” is a motto of a summer camp I work at, and the same is true of God’s Word. If we don’t drink, we’ll become disoriented, cranky, weak, and unsure. But the good news is, we’re not stranded alone in a boat, leagues away from fresh water. His word is near to us (Deuteronomy 30:14)–you can even go download the Bible on your phone right now if you’d like. We have aboard with us the living water, and we are traveling with a God who pours out streams of his goodness and grace. His Word will rush over us, washing and refreshing our souls, and our thirst shall be satisfied in him.