You search the scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the scriptures point to me! –John 5:39
As I read Jesus’ words to the Jewish leaders this morning, I am reminded that just reading the Bible is insufficient. The point of the reading is to point us to God, to prompt us to pray, to help us deepen our relationship with the one who inspired the scriptures.
So often I approach my daily Bible reading as just one more item on my to-do list to check off. There is satisfaction in checking the box, after all—a sense of accomplishment. But pondering and praying takes more time, and too often I’m in a hurry. It’s so hard sometimes to stop the forward motion and listen. This is as true for my relationship with God as it is for my relationship with people. It takes time to stop and listen, to say more than a passing hello and to really listen to the answer to “How are you?”
The problem is the lack of time. The clock mercilessly ticks onward. If I forget to keep an eye on the clock, it races forward and suddenly I am out of time.
Ecclesiastes 3 says there is a time for everything. Can that mean that there is time to do everything? If God supplies all we need (Philippians 4:19), does that include time?
God’s sense of time is far different from ours. For God, a thousand years is like a day and a day is like a thousand years (2 Peter 3:8). Think how much we could get done in a thousand year day!
Paul understands our dilemma. He says to make the best use of time, for the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16). He warns us to use our time for good, and not waste it on “works of darkness.” It’s not always easy to know how to spend time in God honoring ways, though. So much of what we do is more of a gray area than a dark area.
Today’s reading from Jesus Calling says that God speaks to us in the depths of our being. Psalm 42:7 puts it so poetically—“deep calls to deep.” If I take the time to think about it, I realize that my soul longs for this deep connection with God, and yet it’s so much easier to skim along the surface and not deal with these deep longings. It takes time to slow down enough to let things sink deeper….to stop and take a breath and be still and know that God is God (Psalm 46:10).
This is the pitfall of Bible reading plans. They should come with a warning: “Can cause you to read too fast.” And yet there is a time for everything. One summer I read the entire Bible in three months. It was a huge time commitment and I absolutely could not allow myself to stop and ponder too much or I would fall behind. Prior to that summer, I would frequently write journals and blogs about what I was reading in the Bible, but that summer there was no time for any of that. There were benefits to that speed. I gained a new understanding for how the pieces of the Bible fit together. I saw connections between the chapters and books I’d never seen before. And when I was done, I got caught up on writing. I couldn’t stop. I’d spent all summer taking things in, and then they had to come out.
So I guess there is truly a time for everything. God makes sure we get what we need when we need it. When we’ve gone too long without finding that deep contact with God, our souls cry out and make us stop and be still, and then it’s like finding water in the desert as God touches our hearts.
And then it only takes a moment to say, “thank you.”