Last week, I shared with you why I ditched my Bible reading plan, and relayed my current plan for trekking through the book of Romans.
In the past week and a half, I have read through Romans three times. I’ve read and reread various chapters, trying to grasp the bigger picture of the letter. I thought, perhaps, that if I focused solely on Romans, I would draw more from the text.
Sadly, I STILL found myself continuing to tune out, fighting to keep my mind on the task at hand.
Granted… My mind has been engaged in a fierce battle with depression, among other things. October is a challenging month for me. Three years ago yesterday, my spouse endured a traumatic event that turned our lives upside down. In truth, near-death experiences are traumatic for both spouses. We both suffer from a degree of PTSD, (my spouse, of course, suffers from it on a far greater level than I). While we both try not to dwell on this past event, on some intangible plane, we find ourselves more restless during the month of October.
…So, ok, I might be struggling with some mental stuff… maybe that’s what’s giving me writer’s block and lack of focus.
Be that as it may, I don’t want to succumb to my distracted state or create excuses to be slack in my pursuit of God. We must all engage in the fight to stay on course, contending with our own weakness.
Yesterday, as I was cobbling together my upcoming Bible class lesson on prayer, I had a light bulb moment: We pray in order to talk to God, we study in order to listen to God. We engage in these activities because we love God and want to know Him more.
I had lost sight of the big picture!
Why do I study the Bible?
Is it for the purpose of securing material for my blog? No…
Is it to make myself wiser? While we gain wisdom through the Word, it isn’t enough motivation…
Is it to know how to live? Partially…
Do I seek to make myself righteous by checking that box? Dear me! I hope not!
Do I study in order to defend and contend? Yes, but it still doesn’t give me sufficient focus…
So, why? Why do I need to fight to stay focused and carve time out of my day to read God’s Word?
I want to know God.
“Aren’t you a Christian, Elihu? Don’t you already know God?”
Stick with me, dear readers, and consider…
Before we enter the marriage relationship, we spend countless hours with the person we love. We want to know them as well as possible before committing to this life-long relationship. We endeavor to learn their interests, favorite things, etcetera, in order to please them. My spouse and I began our dating long-distance. We spent long hours talking on the phone about everything—faith, child-rearing, movies, scenarios, future plans etcetera. As our relationship progressed, I thought I knew my intended pretty well.
Then we got married.
Talk about entering a whole new level!
Eleven years later, we are still learning. Our relationship grows ever deeper. As I age and my spouse ages, we must continue to learn (and re-learn) our morphing personalities and interests. I know my spouse quite well, but I should never stop seeking to know more.
In a similar way, when we become a Christian, we embark on a new relationship with God. (Note: God never changes like my spouse and I do…) Often, this relationship with God begins out of reverent fear. As we grow in Christ, however, this grows into deepening gratitude and love. Furthermore, God is indescribably greater than we are. His wisdom, compared to our own, is like the size of the universe compared to a speck of sand. He wants us to seek Him, to know Him, and to glorify Him. We don’t find God and check Him off our bucket list as though we saw the Eiffel Tower. Seeking to know God ought to be our lifelong pursuit.
Yesterday, I sat down with my Bible, a delicious cup of homemade chai, and my new focus. I wanted to read through Romans chapter 1 and specifically focus on what those 32 verses revealed about God.
Here’s what I found in chapter one:
- God is creator (verses 20 & 25)
- God promised the gospel (He always keeps His promises) (verse 2)
- God loves us (verse 7)
- God has revealed Himself to all men since creation (verses 19-20)
- God’s decrees are righteous (verse 32)
- God possesses eternal power & divine nature (verse 20)
- God’s wrath is directed at evil & suppression of truth (verse 18)
You might say, “Elihu, didn’t you know that already?”
Sure I did, but I never recognized before now how much God revealed about himself in Romans chapter one.
This morning, as I read chapter 2, I jotted down this quick list:
- God is judge (verses 2, 5 and 16)
- God is kind (verses 2 & 3)
- God exercises forbearance (verse 4) (forbearance by definition is “the action of refraining from exercising a legal right, especially enforcing the payment of a debt” Websters)
- God is patient (verse 4)
- God’s kindness is intended to lead us to repentance (verse 4)
- God is impartial (verse 11)
- God renders each of us according to our works (verse 6) (Render, definition, “to cause (someone or something) to be in a specified condition; to give something to someone” Websters)
- The state of the heart and conscience is of great importance to God (verses 15 & 29)
These are very rough lists, but I have made it my goal to go through each chapter of the book of Romans with the specific purpose of seeing what is revealed to me about God. It’s quite engaging! At the end of Romans, I will consolidate my list and then go to the next book to see what is revealed and/or repeated.
You may notice that my list included definitions. If you are unsure why a word is used, think how you would explain it to a six-year old. (Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it to a six-year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”) If you find that you would be unable to explain it to a young child, look it up. The internet has dictionaries if you don’t keep one in your house. Understanding the definition of words will deepen your comprehension of the text along with your knowledge of God.
Study the Bible to know the Lord. Our relationship with God isn’t sustained by “falling” in love, but by seeking to know the One whom we love. Seek the Lord today; tomorrow may be too late.
Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;
His going out is sure as the dawn;
He will come to us as the showers,
As the spring rains that water the earth.
~ Hosea 6:9, ESV