I took all of 2011 to read one book of the Bible, the Gospel according to John. One. Full. Year.
Yes, me: a bookworm from birth, Kindle addict, information junkie, and former read-the-Bible-in-a-year proponent.
What went wrong? Well, who says something went wrong? Perhaps God was just trying to get my attention so that I could get this one thing, Bible reading, right … for me.
I started feeling:
- Like spiritually, I was inadvertently trying to keep up with the (invisible yet palpable) Jones.
- Like I was cramming for an exam that was taking a long time coming.
- Like I was in a race and that the true meaning of the Bible passages was sprinting past me.
So, this multitasker/speed reader started sensing the need to dial it back a bit and pay more attention to the Word. It’s probably one of the best things that ever happened to me.
I’m not knocking scripture memorization and more intense methods of studying the Bible. Believe me, they were immensely useful to me earlier on in my Christian journey. Still are. It’s just that the moment came when I needed a different experience of the Word. And that’s what God provided.
In his book “The Life You’ve Always Wanted, “John Ortberg describes hurry as “the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. Hurry can destroy our souls.” Ouch. Been there, done that. He goes on to explain that “following Jesus cannot be done at a sprint. If we want to follow someone, we can’t go faster than the one who is leading.” Double ouch.
A good friend, now of blessed memory, told me she used to read just one verse a day. My racing mind couldn’t comprehend at the time how anyone would be satisfied reading one verse only, but she said it was more than enough to carry her through the day. I’ve come to see the value in such an approach.
As in the physical, so in the spiritual: small bites and intentional slow eating make all the difference to our digestion. The Word of God isn’t fast food; it’s called the Bread of Life for a reason.
Wolfing down the Word will never fully satisfy. We need to digest it slowly and completely for it to create a u-turn in our thinking, speaking, and acting. That can only truly happen as we meditate and cogitate on the Word.
Ortberg made another piercing point that has stuck with me: “Our primary task is not to calculate how many verses of Scripture we read or how many minutes we spend in prayer. Our task is to use these activities to create opportunities for God to work. Then what happens is up to Him.”
Are you in the slow reading lane? Or are you on the Autobahn?