2012 is “Finish Year,” at least according to Jon Acuff.
Like thousands, I’ve joined the bandwagon and am making my 5 goals for the year.
Like Goal #2, Goal #3 is once again a personal one – this time on a spiritual level.
In 2012, I want to read through the Bible using the 52 Week Bible Reading Plan.
I have read the Bible all the way through many times, but to be honest, I haven’t always been real intentional in my daily Bible reading. “Intentional” as in not just studying it for another motive (even really, really good ones) but instead retaining its Truths for me, for my growth instead of my GPA’s or the growth of others. I’ve been working on this more the past 2 years but still am experiencing the effects of unconsciously neglecting personal study for so long.
This was especially true during college. Not that it’s an excuse, but when you spend 3 1/2 years completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Biblical Studies, and your Bible becomes your #1 textbook (meaning you’re using it up to 6 hours a day), it’s kind of hard to get excited about opening it for the sole purpose of hearing from God with no string attached. You feel burnt out and like you got more than enough Bible time in each day, even if 99% of that time was for academic purposes and not intentional spiritual growth, or at least I did.
At the same time I was also traveling the country sharing my testimony with literally thousands of people. I wasn’t comfortable, nor did I think it was right, to just talk about me the whole time. Therefore, through sharing Scripture, I always made sure I incorporated an attribute of God and/or theological point that went with my story (in particular, His sovereignty and goodness amidst human suffering) into each of my speaking engagements. My goal was to ultimately help the group to whom I was speaking grow in their knowledge and understanding of God through the telling of my walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I wasn’t out for fame or a good pat on the back from a person from each state of the union. I was in love with Jesus, even if He allowed me to experience the effects of the Fall in painful ways. Glorifying His name was all I cared out when I was out on the road. I mean that. I also know, though, that this calling required a lot of preparation and time in the Word – for motives not focused on my own spiritual growth but others’ instead.
I was also directing a teen-related ministry and also teaching ladies’ Bible study once-a-week, two activities that had me once again focused on helping others grow in their walks with the Lord, and you have one very burnt out Christian.
My burn-out was my own fault, though. I know that now.
I had poured out so much from the Word to everyone else but failed to fill myself back up. I had made excuses for how I was “already spending time in the Bible” when I felt the Holy Spirit’s nudge to take time to hear from Him outside of my school work or group preparation.
I’ve learned the hard way that:
- Studying the Bible for others’ benefit, or for your Christian college education, doesn’t mean you’re growing yourself.
- It doesn’t mean you’re submitting yourself daily to the Holy Spirit’s leading just because you crack open the Bible for hours a day.
- It doesn’t mean you’re living in God’s will just because you have X amount of passages memorized or have mad exegetical skills.
As we look to get back out on the road during 2012, I am praying that I will not let my personal study become lax like I have in the past when my schedule has been filled with Godly things, activities that in the pasts have had me daily in the Word but not for the purpose of asking, “God, how do You want to change me today?”
May that be the question on the forefront of all of our minds during 2012.