You shrivel and wither and die spiritually. Not. Actually not reading the Bible for a few weeks and solely meditating and practicing the words of scripture that I knew by memory has been more challenging than I expected. One challenge is that every time I meditate on one passage the insight that I receive makes me want to look up another passage that connects with the one I am meditating on. It also makes me want to do more analytical study of the passage. The yearning for more analytical study showed me how much of following Jesus in the Western world has been reduced to the cognitive and theoretical. I would rather try to find out the “real meaning” of the verse than actually do it.
Aside from the challenges there have been many benefits to this month long scripture fast:
I have received tons of encouragement from other brothers and sisters due to the fact that I could not search the scriptures on a whim. I had to rely on other followers of Jesus to speak God’s word to me.
These past few weeks I have had the privilege of gaining new insights on passages that I have known since I was a child. This process of chewing and digesting words already stored into memory has allowed me to extract even more spiritual nutrients from the text. Being “forced” to keep the same scriptures before my mind has allowed me to see them from different perspectives.
The best benefit is being given more space to put the words of the Bible into practice. This has been also the most challenging and the most convicting. This time has allowed me to see how the most basic principles of the faith have been absent from certain areas of my life. All of my anxieties and fears and pride cannot be covered up by more knowledge. It’s hard to be distracted by my disobedience with a false sense of growth. My appetite for more information about the bible is being transformed into a an appetite for more application of the Bible. John Wimber used to say “The meat is in the street” meaning we grow in Christ as we put the words of the Bible into action. That’s hard to do when you are constantly looking for clever theological cookies in the cupboard
Last but not least I got a taste of what it’s like to be a part of the persecuted and underground church. In many countries owning a Bible is illegal or at least hard to come by. Many of these followers of Jesus nourish themselves spiritually with cut out pages of the New Testament or the stories of Jesus they can remember. In the United States where bookstores carry Bibles for every marketing niche and hotels give away copies of the Bible it is easy to take God’s word for granted. During this season I am standing in solidarity with the great men and women of God who possess a strong vibrant faith in spite of not having access to the whole Bible.
This has been an amazing month of experiencing a new discipline and I’ll be glad to conclude it on Christmas Eve as I read the birth narratives in the gospels to crown up the first annual Scripture Fast
So what do you think?
Do you find you know more about the Bible than you actually put into practice?
What do you do when the Bible grows stale?
Have you ever thought about the fact that we have numerous Bibles in this country but so many don’t read them?