No, I’m not referring to listening to a quirky ‘80s band every morning. I mean “devo” as in devotional – time spent on God’s Word and prayer, time to focus on the LORD, time invested alone with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I treasure this predawn time with God. There is no daily experience sweeter than communing one-to-one with the Creator, worshiping Jesus and soaking in His goodness, grace, mercy and love.
I must admit that this has always been a struggle for me. “Entering into His presence” can be tough for one with a brain like a runaway train, always rattling recklessly down the tracks.
One of my Achilles heels has always been that I am better at starting great projects than seeing them through to fruition. I have stacks of half-filled notebooks brimming with half-baked ideas, half-written stories, half-hashed plots and plans, that stand as a testimony to my unfocused, disorganized, scattershot thought processes. Collectively they represent a vast array of incompleteness – everything I have ever not done. (Well, everything I bothered to write down…)
Here’s an example of my runaway train of thought as I study a passage of Scripture:
“Wow… I wonder what Paul means by that. I oughta do a quick word study to get some depth of meaning here. Where’s my Strong’s Dictionary…”
“Hmmm… it sure is quiet in this office. A little Caedmon’s Call in the background would be nice this morning…”
“Jesus and His disciples walked everywhere, and did so either barefoot or in sandals. How’d they do that? Too bad they didn’t have sneakers back then. You know, when your feet hurt, your whole body…”
“What a beautiful sunrise! I need to get a photo of that for today’s Facebook post…”
“I can’t remember. Do I prefer Anjou or Bosc pears?”
“Hope Mamaw’s getting settled in her new surroundings. Lord, please bless her with great joy in her circumstances…”
“Bet it’s steamy over in Guangzhou today. Man, I’d love to go back there!”
“Focus, focus, focus… Austin will be up soon. I hope Jennie’s hairdryer doesn’t wake the boy up…”
“Which one is the red pear? I think it’s the Anjou…”
“I gotta remember to email people tonight about small groups…”
“The weatherman said we might get some snow tonight. Wonder if it will miss us. The snow always goes around us…”
“Oh man! The van is due for an oil change.”
“I wonder if there is some psychological reason why I prefer red pears over the normal tan ones. The Boscs are the tan ones, right?”
“Boy, do I have a stack of paper waiting for me when I get to work today. Lord, please help me through the day…”
“I haven’t talked to mom or dad in a few days. Better call them tonight. Oh, and remember the emailing that needs done…”
“I wonder if it ever snows in Guangzhou. Surely not. I doubt it ever gets cold enough, seeing as how it practically sits on the Tropic of Cancer…”
“Bosc, Anjou… Bosc, Anjou… If I have one of each pear, I could taste them, compare, and know which one I prefer. I’m sure it’s the red one…”
I think you get the idea. It takes a lot of concentration some mornings.
However… if I have a clear-cut destination and directions for my journey, my mind follows along the tracks much easier. With that in mind, and all I have been listening to lately about the Christological approach to theology (Christ-centered Bible teaching that recognized Scripture as a cohesive whole as opposed to a series of parts and pieces, all with Jesus Christ at the center), I have decided to read the Bible.
The whole Bible.
Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21.
Creation to re-creation.
Even the genealogies and begats.
I am not placing any time constraints on this project, because I do not want to miss anything. The Bible is not a book to be read quickly. There is not one wasted word in all of Scripture. No filler, no fluff. It is the most economical collection of written works ever scribed and complied. Speed reading Scripture sorely nullifies the benefits and effectiveness of thorough Bible study.
And, yes, study is the key word here. I want to know God deeper, understand His will and ways deeper. This isn’t a race or attempt to impress anybody. It is just the fulfillment of a desire to read God’s Word in it’s entirety, in succession, as the Protestant canon of Scripture lays it all out.
Being a theology student for so many years, I have read the entire Bible. But not necessarily as a whole. This I what I want to experience: the progressive revelation of God in His Word, in the order it is presented. I may even throw in some Apocrypha when I finish Malachi, just to get a historical flavor for the 400-year intertestimental period leading up to the appearance of John the Baptist.
How long will this take? Who knows? Our Monday morning men’s Bible study group started the Gospel of John last May/June. We’re just now in John 9. It may take a year to read the whole Bible. At the rate I’m going, it may take a decade. Frankly, I’m ok with that. I want to absorb it. So, I’m studying my way through the Bible, not just reading it.
I want to know the LORD better. I want a better walk with Thee. I want to be a workman worth His wage (not that I can earn anything with God, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try). I want to be a better Christian – a better husband, better dad, better son and grandson and nephew and uncle. A better friend and brother in Christ. A better teacher, better writer, better leader… And I know I cannot do these things on my own. I cannot change me.
Only God can truly change the heart and mind of a person. Only God truly knows what I need. Only God can keep the train from derailing, or put the locomotive back on the right tracks. So, it behooves all of us to spend time with Him – in Him, through His Word and prayer.
So today I begin this trek through His Word. I ask for your prayers as I head out on this journey, that I do not get distracted or derailed. That I grow through this undertaking – not merely knowing His Word but knowing Him – the Great I AM – better, closer, deeper. That I stay the course in life that He has plotted for me. That He makes me a more effective minister of the Gospel. That God uses me in a great and mighty way. That it not be about me, but about the LORD.
Clickety-clackety-clack… I hear that train a-comin’.
Definitely Anjou pears…