The picture captures the exact moment my three year old son’s face morphed into a once-in-a-lifetime combination of “Dad, life is wonderful!” and “Dad, I just soiled my pants, big time.” It hangs in my office, commemorating the instant he and I roared down the finale of his first log flume ride. How two competing emotions could simultaneously reside on a child’s face is not possible to fully comprehend – but this was perfectly accomplished by my son. I have the picture to prove it. The look on my face, while excited, is without fear. I had been there and done that before. The contrast between my expression and that of my son proves this point: The more we see something, the less we tend to experience it.
“Attentiveness, longevity and discipleship are traveling companions . . . God has not called us to a system of do’s and don’ts. He has called us to an ongoing love-affair with Himself. “
The biggest struggle you will ever have with enjoying the Bible is the same struggle you will have with God. It’s true for all of us. The struggle is in keeping things fresh, as if each encounter were for the very first time. This approach is vital to living an exhilarating, God-empowered, fruitful life. It’s vital to the primary objective if a real Christ-follower – enjoying and following God.
God has not called us to a system of do’s and don’ts. He has called us to an ongoing love-affair with Himself. The Creator of the universe has reached out and extended a personal invitation to you to journey with Him throughout the course of your life. And, when this life is over, you will continue that journey into eternity. If you’ve allowed yourself to fall asleep in the journey it just may be that you’ve forgotten Who He is and who you are in this journey. A real follower of God doesn’t live life on auto pilot.
PAY ATTENTION, LIFE IS HAPPENINGAttentiveness, longevityand discipleship are traveling companions.In order to go the distance and be a real, growing disciple, you’ve got to keep your Bible reading fresh, vibrant and fruitful. One of the keys to achieving this aim is to approach your Bible reading – each and every time – as if you are doing so for the very first time. This is what you must do every time you enter your “secret closet.”
Our problem is that the more familiar we are with a Bible story, the greater our problem is in experiencing it fully each time it is revisited. We think we know God, but that’s a lie. We know some things about God. But the calling of a disciple is to accept God’s invitation to a lifetime of getting to know Him – and in the process becoming more like Him in character.
“This is a bit of a trick you need to play with yourself – but it’s one of the most rewarding tricks you will ever have the pleasure of performing.”
I’ve been blogging about how to approach time in your secret closet. I hope my suggestions help you. Now it’s time to offer some new suggestions to make your secret closet time even more rewarding.
A huge key to making your secret closet time rich, rewarding and invigorating is to resist the temptation to approach the Bible as if you are familiar with its stories, as if you are familiar with God. This is a bit of a trick you need to play with yourself – but it’s one of the most rewarding tricks you will ever have the pleasure of performing. The most important thing you can do with your time today – and throughout the course of your life, is to make sure you are getting consistent, daily time in God’s Word, the Bible. (Read more about this, here.)
HOW TO READ GOD’S WORD AS IF IT IS THE FIRST TIME – EVERY SINGLE TIME
Just as humility before God is essential as you begin time in your secret closet, so is humility in approaching God’s Word, the Bible. In fact, if you are not humbly approaching your Bible reading, you’ve either forgotten, or haven’t in the first place considered, that the way you treat the Bible is a way you treat God Himself. You need to see your time in God’s Word as literal time before God. It’s not that the Bible is God – but the Bible is His Word. To respect God’s Word is to respect God, to honor Him, to humble yourself before Him by putting His Word in a very proper, prioritized place.
“. . . every single time you put a Bible into your hands you are holding the hand of God, about to encounter Him when you open it up.”
Don’t take anything about God’s Word for granted. If you were gazing at God, you’d drink in His every feature, allowing it to burn into your memory banks for future recall, inspiration and encouragement. This is the same way you want to approach your time reading, studying and meditating on the Word of God. Here are some tips to help you read God’s Word as if it were the first time – every single time:
- Humble yourself, intentionally, and meaningfully tell God something like this, from your heart and soul: “Lord, I thank you for what you may have taught me about this passage, story, verse before – what you may have taught me about Yourself and me – but please don’t let me miss anything You have for me as I now begin to read and reflect. Don’t let me assume I know it all, understand it all, and have applied it all. Don’t let me miss You.” (Remember, knowledge and education are not the same as commitment and application. The aim of all Bible reading is to apply God’s word. Otherwise, you are merely and dangerously becoming a Pharisee.)
- Make a decision to pause before opening a Bible, and to remember that every single time you hold one in your hands you are holding the hand of God, about to encounter Him when you open it up. To open a Bible is to drink from the fountain of God – but you must swallow its refreshment. Treat the Bible uniquely, not as a mere book but as a portal to the very thoughts, words, heart and presence of God. When you open the Bible, begin doing so as an exercise in opening your ears, eyes, heart, soul, mind and entire being to the mouth, mind, heart and glory of God.
- Ask God to give you a much deeper appreciation for all He did to give you the Book you have at your disposal, the Bible. No other book in history has been more assaulted , more revered and better preserved than the Bible. It is the world’s number one best-selling book for good reason. But the reason is not to simply sit upon a bookshelf, coffee table or night stand. It is because it is such a book that man couldn’t write if he would, and wouldn’t write if he could. It is God’s gift to each and every one of us. It is God’s gift to you.
- Make sure you really have a “secret closet” that you use, so you are not distracted and can really focus on what you are reading in the Bible. Yes, read the Bible in various places and various times – but by all means, make sure you have a dedicated place, your secret closet, so that you have dedicated time to really treat this special Book of books with the attention it deserves.
If you do these things in your secret closet, when you handle the Bible, you will never exit the same way you entered. God’s hand will be upon you.
All eternal change in your life will one day be traced back to your encounters with God. You can encounter Him any time you wish. It all begins with a new way in how you approach God through the Bible, His very Word.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Chime in and let’s travel together. . .
What to read next:Your 30 Day Spiritual Revolution