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Excuses Got Me Nowhere

August 2, 2009

These were my excuses:

  • I don’t have time
  • I don’t know how
  • I’m not sure where to start
  • Much of it confuses me

Although I had been a Christian for most of my life I had not yet developed a habit of systemically studying God’s Word until six years ago.  I attended church three times a week.  Over the course of my lifetime I had heard thousands of sermons, hundreds of Sunday school lessons, and participated in many small group discussions.  During the four years I attended a small evangelical college I earned nine credit hours in Christian education, of which six were in New and Old Testament studies.  None of this, however, enabled me to move beyond a very basic understanding of God’s plan of redemption.  In a recent post on Desiring God, John Piper said,

Make sure that you are growing—that you don’t plateau at your eighth-grade Sunday-school-level understanding of the Bible—and you’re dealing with graduate level challenges to the Christian faith. Keep the one growing with the other. Read substantial Christian books. Know theology.”

At the age of 47 I realized I had hit a plateau with a very surface-level understanding of who God is, what He is capable of doing, and what He is calling me to do.  I had confessed my sins and accepted Christ as my Savior. I said all the right things. I tried my best to do the things I thought were right and abstain from the things I thought were wrong.  The problem was that I kept hitting a brick wall in overcoming long-held sinful habits.  I had a critical spirit and I desperately wanted to please people more than pleasing God. I tried to overcome these destructive patterns but I wasn’t able to do it on my own.  I repeatedly asked God to help me but I was too lazy to read and study the very book that would provide the means to transform my character.

I joined a Precept Bible Study in the fall of 2003. When I first began the process I completed the lesson to say that I completed the lesson. However, over time, God’s Word became very personal to me.  I found that as I wrestled with the meaning of a passage of Scripture, God spoke to me.  God was using His Word to let me know how much He loved me.  Not just “the world”, but me, Jennifer.  As I realized the depth of His love for me, I fell deeply in love with Him. This translated to my eagerly anticipating the next time I could get away to read and study His Word. It became less of a chore and more of a desire. After all, it was during the time I was reading and studying His Word that I felt the closest to God.  I found that my long-held addiction of watching T.V. became less attractive and spending time with God became something I looked forward to.  Less T.V. meant I freed up a lot of time, which could be devoted to studying His Word.

The deeper I got into my studies I found that God deals with every issue I face in Scripture.  I saw myself in the retelling of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt.  Although God had done these amazing miracles to free them from slavery in Egypt, as soon as they got thirsty they began to grumble.  I call my criticisms of situations and of people, “venting”, but it is still grumbling.  I also came to realize, as God pointed out to Moses, that my grumbling was aimed at God, not the circumstances.  Over time, my desire has changed from wanting God to fix the situation to wanting to handle the situation in such a way that I don’t regret the way in which I dealt with the problem.

Studying God’s Word is not magic.  It takes time and discipline but the reward has been an intimate relationship with Jesus that has had the power to cleanse and transform my character – something I wasn’t able to do on my own. My only regret is that I wish I had started years ago, when I didn’t think I had the time.

If you live in the Bryan/College Station area, please consider joining us on Tuesday nights at the Church of the Nazarene from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM.  We will be studying Deuteronomy and Joshua this fall and Matthew in the spring. For more details see this posting.

Update:  We will be studying Matthew from January 2010 – May 2010.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. jamee permalink
    August 3, 2009 6:17 AM

    this is so good, Mrs. Bergland! I have come a long way this spring in my time with the Lord. It is so sweet when I realize I want to get up early and I want to be quiet and I want to read and I want to write.

    Of course, 4x out of 5 my wee babes wake up moments after I do, but I am trying 🙂

  2. Jennifer permalink*
    August 3, 2009 8:17 AM

    First of all, quit calling me Mrs. Bergland! 😉 Second, it sounds like you are already way ahead of where I was at your age. Your time with the Lord will provide you the strength you need with those “wee babes”.

  3. August 7, 2009 10:54 PM

    This is so convicting/encouraging. It’s such a fight to stay consistent in reading my bible. Do you make time to do it every day?

    • Jennifer permalink*
      August 16, 2009 11:00 PM

      Megan, I wish I could say that yes, I make the time every day. Sometimes I do, but not always. Usually I spend about 3-4 hours on Sunday afternoons, and then about 2-3 hours spread throughout the rest of the week. It usually works out to 4 out of 7 days.

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  1. Learning to Look Forward to Reading the Bible « Sharing The Treasure

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