Recently, I was asked by Andy if I would be willing to participate in a group blogging project regarding Mark Batterson‘s book, Primal. I had already read it and Bible college once I had graduated from high school. I even earned a religion degree. But I was deemed “most likely to appear on Jerry Springer” by my peers, no one could have foreseen what God would do in my life. No one would have said, “David. He’ll be the Bible guy.”
And yet, that’s what I’ve become. In my journey, I’ve become the Bible-thumper. And perhaps, that’s why this chapter resonated with my journey. In the attempt to go back to the basics of the Christian faith and life, we must return to the Christian Word.
The quest for the lost soul of Christianity always leads us back to the Bible. (pg. 72)
The Not-so Bible Guy
Truth be told, my years in college were a smorgasbord of running away from God. I experienced the same hypocrisy that existed in my own heart present in the lives of so many of those I wanted to look up to. I watched the preaching students with the pleated khaki’s and the polo shirts party harder than I ever imagined every weekend. And it disgusted me. Not because of what they were doing, but because I had the same experience and inclination. So I rebelled from the expectation. I decided that I would be the same guy on the weekends that I was during the week. But rather than aligning my life by straightening up, I quit playing pretend, had fun, and damaged far too many relationships around me.
When I “discovered the Bible”
And it was somewhere in this journey – not pretending to be the nice Christian boy I was expected to be, but just trying to live a good life – that God began actively drawing me to himself. I tried to live a life pleasing to God, while also trying to prevent that from changing anything in me. I wanted be to whole. I wanted to be strong. I wanted to grow in Christ. But I could not bring myself to establish a consistent time in God’s Word. I had heard lessons, sermons, and lectures on why I should read my Bible and memorize verses and have a quiet time – all of which would apparently be even better and more godly if I would do them before dawn. And I tried. I set my alarm to no avail. I fell asleep while reading the Bible and sufficiently drooled all over God’s Word. I envied my friends who would share with me their invigoration after they had encountered God while I was still sawing logs, but try as I might, I could not do it.
And then, through a season of intense struggling, I came to understand (by God’s grace) that the foundation for my hope was in the revealed Word of God. In it, I began to see that the same sovereign hand at work in the Scriptures, was at work in me. My heart was suddenly drawn to God’s Word in a way that it had not been before. I committed to reading the Bible cover-to-cover once per year and purchased a “Daily Message” Bible (which interestingly enough, is the exact same Bible that Mark Batterson purchased with the same commitment).
When we open the Bible, it’s like God opens his mouth… That’s how we tune in to his voice. (pg. 72)
In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (who had a similar epiphany), “I discovered the Bible.” I discovered a sense of intimate fellowship with my Creator as I read, prayed, and meditated on his Word. Because reading God’s Word isn’t enough. We should meditate on it. And that sounds so eastern, but rather than emptying our minds, meditating on Scripture fills our minds with it. And yet, that’s so difficult for most of to attempt.
We dissect Scripture instead of letting Scripture dissect us. We approach it like a textbook, analyzing the words with our logical left brains. But until it captures our right-brain imagination, we’ll be nothing more than half-minded, half-hearted, half-souled Christians. (pg. 80)
Read it. Meditate on it. Then live it out.
Perhaps, you find yourself in a similar position I was in. Maybe you’re running from the complicated (mis)understanding of what the Christian life looks and feels like. Perhaps, you find yourself just beginning the journey as a new believer. Or, maybe more likely, you’re somewhere in-between, searching out what this could and should look like for you.
My encouragement is this: Get your nose in the book. Read it. Embrace it. Allow it to transform the way you think and understand. Meditate on it. Soak it in. Digest each word, each phrase. Pray it back to God. Allow his Word to be the words that you speak to him. And then roll up your sleeves, and get to work living out what God is speaking to you through his Holy Word.
As for me? My journey with the Scriptures has been more than I could have ever imagined. I uprooted my family because I felt that God was prompting me to leave a good position at a good church in a great city in order to start a new church elsewhere. That journey was a glorious failure in the sense that it didn’t happen, but a tremendous chapter in my life that God used to challenge and develop my faith and my assurance in his providence and sovereignty. Today, I sit on the other side of that season as the pastor of a new church in Wichita, KS. And I wouldn’t trade one second of the journey that God – through his Word – has led me on.
Be prepared. When you begin to take God’s Word seriously, everything changes. God’s calling on your life will be different than mine, no doubt. But don’t be surprised when you look back after a few years and wonder when it all changed…