How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. ~Psalm 119: 9-11
Setting off on a path through the woods is completely different than blindly wandering around in a forest. One is purposeful and leads in a direction; the other can be dangerous and certainly random. Studying the Bible can often feel more like a blind wandering than a purposeful stride. But if we were sitting at coffee, I would want to impress on you the importance of exploring the riches of God’s Word in a way that brings order and structure.
Many times over the years I have felt as if I am blindly stumbling through time in the Bible, sometimes finding a truth nugget and sometimes just reading for the discipline of it. I talk with many women who profess feeling as if the Scriptures are dry or overwhelming. Often friends have worried that they just forget almost immediately what they have read as they begin their day, and while they know the truth of scripture is applicable to their lives, there is this disconnect to it “sticking.” Then there are the times when I have sought a great memorization technique to engage the Word to learn His truth only to walk away because I have fallen behind or not accomplished what I think I should have.
But the truth is this: we are called to His word.
Psalm 119 abounds in His call for us to pursue, engage, memorize, and apply His word. The psalmist speaks of how God’s word, statutes, precepts, and law all must be the foundation of his walk with God. The same is true for you and me. In fear, we can remember who He is. In temptation, we can keep our way pure with His truth guarding our desires. The truths of God’s Word are fierce weapons against the lies the world and Satan sling at us. He gives us understanding and comfort. Scripture makes us wise, and the result is the Word of God becomes sweeter than honey to our souls.
So if we are to engage the Word of God daily like we do food and water, then how do we do it? How do we grow to handle the Word of God well, or do we just sigh and believe that skill is reserved for the pastor or teacher? I have spent time with many young women, my own daughters included, who desire to know but almost freeze with the vastness of the book. They just don’t know how to approach it independent of a bible study telling them the next verse to study or read.
While I think we live in an age in which we are greatly blessed with studies and devotionals, God’s heart beckons us to His Word alone. He is enough.
We can approach Him with confidence, knowing we have His Spirit, the great Teacher, living within us who leads us into all truth. As believers we need to learn to sit with Him and His word. Nothing else. Not because all those other studies aren’t valid or good, but because when we begin to perceive the study as the only way to engage God’s word, we cripple ourselves. It may not be your struggle, but I talk with many women who believe that without a study to walk them through scripture, they simply cannot take a step forward with the Word.
One way God has shown me to interact with His Word is by making “road maps” or paths through the Scriptures. As I study a certain concept or theme such as trust or faithfulness, I will begin to mark the verse or passage of the day by tagging the passage I looked at yesterday with today’s passage and vice versa. So over the course of a week of looking at trust, I will have a mini path walking me from passage to passage that speaks to trusting God. These paths have been invaluable to me as God brings me back to a portion of a path formed months or years ago. I can walk on the familiar road and then perhaps go further. Often I need these paths when I am running frantically back to Him with a hurting heart, and the truths He taught me in the quiet moments can steady me and remind me of His truth.
A commitment to time with Him is so important but can be very simply done. Looking for the gospel truths (a gospel treasure hunt as one friend calls it), using some amazing blogs who have worked hard to create a month of readings about different themes, and studying a book of the Bible are some ways to approach the Word especially if you have never done this apart from a study book. Reading straight through the Bible is hard, and I keep this for my evening reading time when I otherwise would be reading another book before bed. I don’t follow a plan; I simply begin and read until I tire as I would a novel and continue the next evening. Then the bondage for me of failing to read to a certain point or read all the different areas in the Old and New Testament simply isn’t there. God has often allowed me to discover something in that reading that I can apply to my morning time with Him or place on a path He’s taught me.
If I could look you in the eye and plead with you for just one thing, this would be it: Read His Word. He is faithful to teach you His truths. He will meet you in the morning and walk with you throughout your day. He will come alongside you as you love your family and friends. He will bring his truths to your mind. He will begin to teach you the overarching truths of grace, love, and hope that ripple from one end of scripture to the other. He will do this.
My prayer is that we would be people with this as our song: In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. ~Psalm 119:14-16