Have you ever caught yourself reading scripture without grasping what you are reading. You try to faithfully read a few chapters a day but today you are running late, or maybe you have a lot going on and your mind wanders or its late in the evening and you can barely hold your eyes open. Sometimes in a particularly rough week, I realize this has happened a few times in a row and I find myself talking to God about why I have not had any revelation that week. Sound familiar? It’s more common than most of us want to admit.
The problem is skimming a few chapters quickly and hoping for inspiration is like rolling an orange in your palm and expecting juice. If we want the real fruit of scripture, then we need to peel it back and give it a squeeze. Like the orange, scripture produces more juice the more we squeeze.
Many times I have read a passage and come up puzzled and a little dismissive of its importance. Later, upon hearing a sermon or reading commentary, something will click and I’ll go back to the passage. This time an underlying message stands out clearly.
The last post on Paul in jail at Phillipi is a perfect example. I read it several times in the last few months for one reason or another. Each time, I noted how “Christian” of Paul to take the time to reassure the jailer or how wonderful that the jailer was saved without further thought. Just recently, I was thinking about how we wall ourselves in and in effect become incarcerated in life when the story of Paul comes back to mind. I got out the Bible and re-read it again. This time the words jumped off the page–the incarcerator was the incarcerated! Such a fundamental point that many of you probable received it the first time you read it, but for me it was a revelation. I had to call someone, a spiritual mentor, and share my new found wonder just to see if I was finally getting it.
This example could be repeated time and time again for many of us and in every single chapter of the Bible. Scripture is often complex and challenging and its mysterious for a reason. God wants us to seek out the Word, to ponder it, nurture it and yes, live it. For a chosen few this may come easy, but for most of us it’s difficult and it’s time consuming.
For the Word to do us any good it has to take root deep inside of us and that requires more than casually rolling it around in our hands a few times a week. Try focusing on quality instead of quantity. Prayer and reflection are equally important and don’t be afraid to share your thoughts with others. Chances are they have both new questions and additional insight. God gave us the orange but it’s up to us to receive the juice!