How is your devotion time? Do you read God’s word? I admit that I thought I was doing OK in this area. Not spectacular, but OK. I tried to read the Bible daily, usually a short reading when I could fit it in my schedule. Once, Dave and I decided to read “The Bible in 90 Days” (Zondervan). This study was taught at our church and we followed along at home. Our personal program became: “The Bible in 100+ Days, but Who’s Counting?” and I was still pretty impressed with myself.
Reading the Bible with my friend Amy took study time to a new level. We first started to read together when she was going through chemo and was tired, so our time was short. She liked to listen as I read and eventually she fell asleep. This was fine with me and it was good to see Amy relax. When Amy was feeling better and I was home in NY, our readings continued over the phone. Reading with Amy changed, sort of like going from a leisurely stroll to training for a marathon. Gone were my 10 minute devotions. Amy was geared up, ready to go and wanted to pack in as much punch as possible. We read for an hour each evening. Once, after reading a few chapters in a book in the New Testament, I suggested we call it a night. Amy was disappointed. “We didn’t finish the whole book” she said.
Reading was not all we did. Amy asked questions, hard questions, good questions, questions with answers way over my head. I had to haul out my study Bible and read commentaries. Often I had to say, “let me think about that and do some research and get back to you.” Next time we talked she would have an answer from her own research and after talking with several people until she found the answer. She was determined and focused. I had never studied the Bible quite like this, as if our very lives depended on it. They did.
A strange thing happened after this year of intense Bible study. I found Scripture coming to mind frequently and appropriate to whatever I was facing. I noticed that I actually learned something during that year. Not just one thing either, but several, multiple, more than I could count. I felt like the Karate Kid. While I was “painting fences” with Amy, God started changing my thinking and embedding His thoughts into my mind. They would come out right when I needed them. During the cancer battle, just when I felt like I was getting my butt kicked, BAM a special defense move came from God. A verse or thought helped attack the enemy. I was “Miyagied.”
Now several months later, I have fallen into old habits. I read my devotional but do not pack in the hours like before. However, I still benefit from the year of study with Amy. Also, my mindset has changed. Bible reading isn’t on my “to do” list anymore, it is a necessity. When I fall out of it and slack off, I can feel it. I miss that time with God. I need that time with God. Isn’t it amazing that He gave His word to us? That we have it so easily available, and it is the living, Word of God? It is God’s gift to us. It strengthens us, calms us, focuses our hearts, shows us God’s love, teaches us the way we should live, guides us, brings hope when we need it, and changes us. “For the word of God is living and active” (Hebrews 4:12a). It is “a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105). And once inside your mind, it causes you to “shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life” (Philippians 2:15b-16a). Shine on!