“Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.”
Psalms 1:1-4 (ESV)
Living in the Hill Country outside of San Antonio I sometimes find myself sitting outside reading by a lamp post. We are far out of the city so there is actually a nice breeze that keeps it cool, a tranquil quietness that allows focus, and a lack of city lights to drown out the brilliance of the night sky. As I sat and read I took a break. The kind of break that we all need when reading something that is difficult so we can try to understand the words that we have just seen. I am reading a book written from another time and place. It was written by an English preacher and written in the 1950’s. As I took my pause to grasp on to what he was saying I noticed the night sky.
It was beautifully dark with the occasional mysterious twinkle of light coming from stars spanning millions of miles in space. I am not much of a star gazer. In fact the concept of sitting and staring is too boring of a concept for me generally. However this night I caught myself seeking a moment of stillness at the end of a frantic day. As I sit staring into the sky at the sporadic display of bright stars I began to notice something strange. The more I stared into the sky more stars began to appear. Now I don’t believe that they actually appeared, they were always there for me to see. Rather, I was finally able to see them.
Two things occurred to me in this moment:
1. The longer I stared into the sky the more my eyes adjusted to be able to see more detail in the starry sky.
2. The more intentional I was about looking for other stars, the more I was able to find them.
◊How often do we simply “glance” at Scripture and not “gaze” at it?
Of course this translated from dark skies and stars unto the “depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God.” (Romans 11:33a) I would suppose that the momentary glancing at God’s Word would leave us as illiterate infants not able to see past the most basic of truths. Now some might stop me here and say that we should not judge each other based on our base of knowledge. Unfortunately, Scripture reveals that our faith is meant to grow in knowledge and understanding. (2 Peter 3:14-18) In fact, the author of Hebrews exhorts the reader to move on from elementary doctrines and eat some meat. (Hebrews 5:11-6:8)
Today we can actually hurt ourselves in a very strange way. We can look so much at Scripture that we are not able to “see” it. See if this resonates with your weekly schedule: (Sunday) Bible Study + Sermon; (Monday) Personal reading; (Tuesday) Personal reading; (Wednesday) Bible Study + personal reading; (Thursday) “other” Bible Study + personal reading; (Friday) Personal reading; (Saturday) Personal reading. Now I get it….this is the “all-star” schedule. Here is my point: when you get to the end of the week can you even remember the text that was taught the previous Sunday? It is rare that all of those times of “study” were on the same or even similar passages. Have we allowed for the Word of God to move from our head to our heart so that it not only makes sense, but transforms us from the inside out?
So often I catch myself in passerby mode when it comes to Bible study. It’s like I am on the highway and pass an accident. I slow down, just like everyone does, and observe what happened. After I see what happened I continue on my way thinking little on what I had seen. We find it easy to sit in a room without any preparation, hear the “lesson” and even give our “drive by” observations, and then leave thinking that we have given the text it’s momentary limelight before leaving it behind.
It is moments like these that led the leadership of our church to encourage members to spend time each week diving in to one continual conversation through Scripture. The preaching of the Word is the starting point. Our children learn from the same text so that they can interact with their parents in the home on the same passages. Our community groups meet during the week to continue in study of the sermon passage and other connective passages throughout Scripture. The study for Community Groups is provided with suggested study passages that can take the entire week for personal reading and study.
Our hope is that by gazing at God’s Word together the Spirit will illuminate it in our minds and hearts so that we know God on a more intimate level. The Word will mature us together more into the image of the Son, Jesus Christ.
Obedience is Mine. The Results are His.