One of the things I’m most convinced of is the life-changing power of reading God’s Word regularly. When my kids were young, I had not become convinced of that. I felt I knew a lot of what was in the Bible, and it wasn’t a big deal if I couldn’t find time for it with the demands of being a mom. I did, however, find plenty of time for my baby books and magazines! (I suppose we find time for what matters most to us!) I wondered why my friends were always running off to a new Bible study. And when I would hear my friend pray the Scriptures, I would think it showy.
I certainly wasn’t hostile to the Bible though. I believed it to be true. But that belief hadn’t moved me to action, and I had a pride of thinking I knew it all anyway. I had a lot of knowledge about the Bible, but other people can only give you that information for so long. At some point, you have to embrace it on your own and do something with it. It wasn’t transforming me in the way it could if I read and studied on my own.
What I found, though, was when I began to read and study the Bible consistently every day, seeking the Lord in prayer, my life began to change. It’s like a child beginning to grow up. You don’t notice their physical growth every day, but if you see a child a year or two later, how surprised you are at how they have grown! We don’t necessarily recognize or experience that spiritual growth each day, but it is happening, and then moments will come where you see how God has been transforming us! And this ongoing process of growth will take place as long as we live!
About 14 years ago, when I first began to read the Bible each day through joining a Bible study with friends, I thought what I was learning was really good. I was surprised by how it spoke to certain situations I was going through. Gradually, little by little, I was starting to have more of a desire to read the Bible than to do other things, like watching TV. (Note: I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with watching TV, but for me at that time, I really watched too much. It was the way I relaxed in the evenings after putting the kids to bed.)
One evening, after cleaning the kitchen and after everyone was asleep, as I began to sit down to watch whatever was on TV that night, I thought I haven’t done my Bible study today. I could do that instead. But I quickly dismissed it with this thought: Oh, but it’s been good the last few days, but it’s already helped me with everything I’m going through. There’s really nothing more it can say to me right now.
I’m still shocked by that arrogance and lack of understanding and expectation of what God’s Word said and could do! Today I know that going to the Bible is to worship and behold God and see what it says first about him, then me in light of that; to understand the Scriptures as I observe, interpret, and then apply to my life; that God’s Word is living and active and can speak anew each time by the power of His Spirit at work. But such it was at that time, and God was patient with me, to teach me slowly and guide me faithfully by His Spirit.
As I sat down to watch TV, on what had seemed to be a quiet evening with calm weather, a huge thunderstorm came up seemingly out of nowhere. I still held a slight fear of storms because of this incident, so as the power flickered and warnings came on the TV, I jumped up and decided I should prepare. I thought I should get ready for bed and light all the candles in case we lost power. And once that was done, I thought maybe now I will do my Bible study while I wait out this storm!
So there I was seated at my table, now dressed in my pajamas with candles lit all around me, ready for the storm, ready to read my Bible. I opened up the study book, and the title was, I kid you not, “Keep Your Lamps Burning.” The verse was taken from Luke 12:35-36:
“Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks.”
It sounds almost comical! There I was, now dressed in readiness (my pajamas), with my lamps (candles) lit! But it was such a picture to me of how I should be waiting for Jesus’ return, not wasting my time in idleness. And just when I thought I knew all that God could tell me through His Word, these perfectly timed circumstances arose to show me I really didn’t know all that much! I want to be dressed in readiness, with my candles burning—expectant, responsive, alert, faithful, sensible, obedient, serving the Lord as I await His return.
The junior high pastor at church preached on this passage yesterday, which reminded me again of this story. “Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit.”