Ever thought you were doing pretty good in an area of your life? Ever thought others could even look to your example? Ever been proven totally wrong? Yep. Me again. The dork who thought she was doing good at something. Notsomuch.
Sometimes the Lord sharpens me through the example of others, and this happened to me in my not-so-distant past. I was participating in a group Bible study, and one of the women, a gal close to my age, came with her personal Bible, as we all were doing. My Bible was still relativley new, shiny, and engraved with my name. I kept it in a cover, so, you know, it would stay new, shiny, and nice. I was quite proud of it, in fact! Quite proud. For like 7.2 seconds. Then this other gal sets her Bible down on the table…and my eyes were instantly fixated on it. It was worn. It was tattered. It was literally swollen from hours of use and re-use. And this is a gal MY age! What I saw is that her Bible was alive and breathing, just like the Word inside it. That Bible was beautiful, and it made my pristine, protected, “pretty” Bible look perfectly pathetic!
I went home that night and took my perfectly pathetic Bible out if its case. I stared at it and wondered just why I had thought it needed to stay perfect. I opened it and I read it. (That is not the uncommon part.) And then I read some more the next day. (A little less common.) And the next. (Three days in a row--now we're talkin'!) I got my pen out and started underlining, marking, drawing exclamation points, and circling that which the Holy Spirit revealed to me. That day, I began the process of bringing my Bible to life, by giving the Word birth in me, and my highest aspiration is to wear it out!
And then I thought...Bible study is a lot like laundry. Bear with me here. For me, as the Mom of six kids and the wife of one farmer, I do a lot of laundry. Like 12 to 14 loads a week, not counting the sheets. (Anyone looking for a part-time job can call me later.) Needless to say, laundry takes a lot of my time. As any decent and self-respecting housewife, I mean Domestic Goddess, I have to commit to our laundry, and I must do it again and again. And again. And again. I have to make a plan. I have to sort, divide, wash, dry, fold, and put away every single piece of clothing. Every. single. piece. (makes me dizzy just thinking about it sometimes) And many weeks, I have to further challenge myself to do even more laundry by stripping the beds and freshening the place where my loved ones rest.
If I did none of these things, my house would be soon overrun by big, nasty piles of smelly, musty clothes. (Mmmmm...great mental image, huh?) My children would be unkempt and unclean. (OK, so that actually happens already. But not very often. Really.) My lack of planning and commitment would be obvious to myself and others within days.
Likewise, as a daughter of Christ, striving to serve Him and live a life worthy of Him, I must do a lot of Bible study. (However, this is a job that no one can do for me. Dang it!) I have to commit my time, and I have to do it again and again and again. I have to make a plan. My plan must be systematic in that a plan will even exist in the first place. Since I have dirt that needs washed out of my soul, I need that systematic plan to sort and divide my weaknesses, through the sharpening of the Word. My plan must be progressive in that I can measure where I am going by where I have been. Am I coming clean? Are the piles diminishing? Can others see me shine, or do I still stink a little bit in my unkempt soul? And lastly, my plan must be challenging in that I must continually add to the learning and dig deeper, adding some new element that challenges me spiritually and intellectually, and that will strip my layed-in grime and give my Savior a fresh place to rest.
Aaaah, Tide fresh!
Everyone reading this knows that I cannot do my laundry without water. I have to open the faucet and let its purity and cleansing power come in, or else my efforts would be futile. There is as much a reason that God made life-giving water for our physical lives, as there is a reason that He gave us the life-giving Holy Spirit for our spiritual lives. I've thought of just a few reasons, and for your reading pleasure, I'll kindly list them here:
The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see the world through God’s eyes.
The Holy Spirit enables us to recognize when God is speaking.
The Holy Spirit helps us to change as we come to know ourselves better through the study of God’s word.
The Holy Spirit instructs us to become more like Christ.
The Holy Spirit works to reshape us, moving us to respond by saying “yes” to God’s love, and yes to loving others.
The Holy Spirit convicts us when our oh-so-very-human arrogance rears its ugly head. Not that that has ever happened to me.
Bottom line? The Holy Spirit must be invited to inform our Bible study. He’s as vital as turning on the faucet.
So, why a post on Bible study? I'm behind and the piles are getting kinda deep. I needed a good reminder. :)