The Absence of Bible Study

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When my children needed to be homeschooled we had to find time to do it.  Kelli and I oriented our lives around opposite schedules and we made sacrifices.  One of the sacrifices for me was the daily posting of Bible study reflections on this blog.  I hadn’t really done it for a constant flow of readers – my postings were too frequent to be popular.  Popular bloggers limit themselves to one decent post a week.  In fact a decent post has been defined to me as a weekly blurb of about 800 words or less.

One of the things I sacrificed along with my daily postings was my daily reading of a commentary.  I would get up each morning and read a selection from scripture from the NIV Application Commentary series.  I have read the majority of the commentaries now, but as I was finishing up 1 Corinthians I just let it go.  My rationalisation was that I would be reading daily with my children, so I would check the box of daily Bible study with them.

However, as I drew from a shallower well, so my refreshment and renewal became more superficial.  In doing a routine for the sake of my children, I lost the depth of connection that I had done from my own heart to God.  I hadn’t become pagan, but I had become less thoroughly Christian.  Not that God was saving me less, but just that our conversations had become less enlivening.

Today I read the introduction to a commentary on 2 Corinthians and I was drawn into the book in a deeper way.  I have had oases of experience over the last year and a half, but they have been oases and not running rivers.  I have prepared sermons and tried to spend close to twenty to twenty-five hours with a text.  When I know that I am preaching on a passage, somehow I make time for it.

Bible study can not just be a cerebral activity, it must be formative.  It is not about the information, but the formation (James K A Smith).  The patterns we form our lives around must also have a focus.  The focus of all of us should be the father heart of God.  Our highest call is into divine intimacy, and our life practices must show that.

This summer I am challenged to re-institute a pattern of Bible study that does not check a box, but that consistently holds my attention and fixes my gaze away from self and onto a saviour who is bigger than my mind can grasp.  I have studied the Bible consistently, but it has not been devotedly.  In developing a pattern of devotion and prayer in my children I have neglected a healthy pattern in my self.  Eating consistently the diet of an 8-year-old is not sufficient nourishment for a 47-year-old.

As I post on the Plymothian, I am not producing so that others may consume.  I am not buying in to a system of commercial success, platform building, or broadcasting.  I am just journaling for God and committing to evidence that my heart is devoted to him.  May it be so.

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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