The extra effort always surprises me. People tell me, “I wasn’t coming to church today, but decided to and God spoke powerfully to me.” Or like when I decide to sit down and pray about the people and problems in my life; not just tossing up thoughts while on the run, but intentionally applying Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” Suddenly, I have clarity and things shift around in whatever I’m dealing with.
The same goes for my Bible reading. I want to rush through
it, but when I slow down looking for a verse, phrase or word to circle, I find
God speaking to me regardless of whether I am in the Old or New
Testament. He offers counsel and new insights into His character and fresh promises to grab hold of.
In the book “Encounters with Jesus,” author and pastor Tim Keller recalls a conference breakout session that changed his life. A presenter named Barbara Boyd promised some tips on reading the Bible (not a particularly cutting-edge subject). Boyd provided these instructions: “Sit for 30 minutes and write down at least 30 things you learned from Mark 1:17.” Mark 1:17 is a passage most can mumble in their sleep, “Come follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” Jesus told a group of fishermen they should start trawling for people. Boyd continued, “We’ve all heard that one for years—Don’t think that after 10 minutes and 4 or 5 thoughts get written down that you’ve figured it out. Take the entire 30 minutes and try to get 30 things observed.” Keller decided to give it a shot. He and the others in the room silently picked their way over, around and through those familiar words. After 10 minutes, true to Boyd’s prediction, Keller put down his pen certain he had seen everything there was to see.
He wanted to spend the rest of the time day dreaming, but everyone else looked like they were still working, so he picked up his pen and started pondering again. Then he noticed new things.
When the exercise was over, the seminary leade asked, “How many of you found life changing insights from the first 10 minutes?” No one raised their hands. What everyone discovered was the longer the time invested in the word, the deeper the insights came forth.
In 2019 let’s make the extra effort and find God.
-Rev Dr William Lewis