HB has written, “To know someone else is to shut up and listen.”
As I embark on the #Effloresce2016 Reading Challenge, I’ve been playing those ten words in my head every time I sit down with my Bible in my hand.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “He [Christ] did not go to the cross to ornament and embellish our life. If we wish to have him, then he demands the right to say something decisive about our entire life. We do not understand him if we arrange for him only a small compartment in our spiritual life. . . . The religion of Christ is not a tidbit after one’s bread; on the contrary, it is bread or it is nothing.”
I’ll be honest: we’re not even two weeks into the reading plan, and I’ve already wanted to neglect my Bible 75% of the time.
But, after even a few days of opening my Bible when God is the last person I want to spend time with, and skimming over the stories I know all-too-carelessly, an earnest desire is budding. It’s not some new text that I didn’t hold in my hands last year. It’s the same ol’ bruised me with a book that looks like a lot of other books, but a book that people find life in as they find truth hidden in its pages. What I’ve found as I begin to take action on all my new year’s resolutions is this: The more I make myself open the Bible first thing in the morning, the more I want to open it at night and sift through the questions, the verbs, the parallels. The more I make myself run, the less I dread stepping on the treadmill and on the scale. The more I meet my goals and take chances and learn how to depend on God, the less lies creep in telling me that the kind of abundant life I’m pursuing could never fit me.
Any time spent in the Word is good, and better than nothing, but if we’re not regularly in the Word, we will not be healthy Christians.
I went weeks without opening God’s word in the fall of 2015, and my mind and my life reaped the consequences. I was hiding from God, and I was angry at Him, so I hid and I kept the pages clamped shut unless I was at church.
There will be days in 2016 when I slip. There will be times when I feel like hiding instead of confessing my sin and allowing myself to be forgiven. Our dirty flesh isn’t wired to sit with and adore Him — but by His grace, we are able to.
This is what we all need to remember when we continually choose a screen over Christ, and when we choose lies instead of the gospel: He didn’t come to ornament our comfortable lives. He transforms our whole life or He is nothing to us. Either we believe that He is worth our time, and our humiliation, and our repentance that leads to salvation and joy, or we don’t.
We aren’t going to know Him if we don’t shut up long enough to read His Word. We aren’t going to ever hear Him speak to us unless we stop screaming curses to the sky and get on our knees. We won’t hear Him if we don’t quiet our pride. We are never going to know His voice if all we do when we pray is heap up empty phrases.
So, my message for you today is simple: let’s shut up.
And not give up on our Bibles.