After my testimony about God’s word in my life, I came up with 3 P’s. Posture, Principles, and Practicalities. Our posture meaning the way we come to the Bible. We need to come hungry and rightly. Today, I’ll post the hungry part:
We come hungry. The Bible refers to itself as food many times: sweet dripping of the honeycomb (Ps 19), we “feed” on Christ whom all the Scriptures bear witness to (John 5:57, Luke 24), we should desire to grow on spiritual milk (1 Peter 2:2) and then onto solid food (Heb 5, 1 Cor 3), so we’ll use that metaphor as well.
Fundamentally, just like we need food we need God’s word. So eat. Every day will not feel like a feast. Some days we eat peanut butter and jelly and some days we eat turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes. Our
Bible reading will probably look more like this pattern of sustenance and feasting. Sometimes we’ll really dig in deep and study something very particular and other days we’ll graze and chew and be fed. And this is good.
When we eat food, we grow up (or at this age sometimes out). But it doesn’t happen all at once. I think sometimes we are like the little boy who thinks if he eats his peas at one dinner, he’ll be dunking a basketball the next morning. Women on average reach their full stature around age 16, that’s over 17,000 meals, some are feasts, but most are pb-and-j. Growing takes time, we can’t expect to eat a huge meal here and there to even keep us alive, let alone help us grow healthy, strong bones and muscles; it’s not the way we were made. In the same way, we must approach our Bible study as daily bread, asking the Creator to feed us, his finite, time limited, tired creatures who can only take in one stomach full at a time.
And good word to the perfectionist types like myself, the type that comes up with an elaborate plan that crumbles at the first sign of failure is to hack resolutely at it; bit by bit, over and over, you’ll start to see the threads weave together, you’ll notice themes, you’ll have more “light-bulb” moments where one text will remind you of another. Nancy Wilson suggests putting a book mark in the Old Testament and one in the New, and just keep reading. Since Scripture interprets Scripture, we need to be taking in the full picture as often as we can. Don’t get hung up squeezing every last drop of meaning out of every text or seizing up on a passage that doesn’t make a ton of sense to you right now. You’ll come back around to it soon enough with more wisdom and knowledge. I heard a good analogy once: The Bible will fit together like a puzzle, perfectly, simply, but not all at once.
We can learn from our kids here. Kids learn to talk by listening and copying. They are hearing vocabulary well outside their range and sometimes they even use it, to everyone’s amusement. But that is how God made them to learn. They’re immersed in the language and before long their trying it out and little by little they gain mastery and confidence. Sometimes we need to be humble enough to start where we are to begin the slow process of growth rather than try to “catch up” to a standard we think we should be. And it seems to me that right around the time I catch a steady pace, I find that the Lord surprises me with a growth spurt; and hunger is always the precursor.
And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Dt. 8:3
Hunger makes the best chef and it is God who causes the hunger. Through trials he causes us to ask questions and look for comfort, like hunger we are motivated to be satisfied and will go to great lengths to be filled. So let’s not waste our trials.
My husband read a book about how to help ideas “stick” with people. One of the main points was to create a knowledge gap. We don’t bother holding on to information if we think we already know everything we need to on the topic. But once we are aware of these gaps, we are eager to fill them and hold on to them. And so it is a kindness of the Lord to show us these gaps, to cause us to hunger for his word, so that He might fill us.