The Word of God says much about God’s word. It endures forever (Isaiah 40:8). It is profitable (2 Timothy 3:16). It lights our path (Psalm 119:105). It corrects (2 Timothy 3:16). It restores (Psalm 19:7). It reveals (Hebrews 4:13). Recorded and collected into an unassuming piece of technology—a book, with sixty-six volumes, written by forty human writers, and all inspired by God himself—the power and importance of Scriptures cannot be overstated. The Word of God is unlike anything.
That’s what makes our habit of reading and enjoying the Word so curious, if not shameful.
Few challenges seem more regularly admitted over pastoral cups of coffee than that of reading the Bible, God’s Word. For some it is a challenge of understanding—the content of the Bible can be difficult to comprehend. For others it’s knowing where to start—the structure and purpose of the Bible can be difficult to make sense of. For others still, (what I hear most often) the challenge is “finding the time”. And it is this phrase which often garners a sympathetic head nod, agreeing that “finding” time is very difficult in our overcommitted lives.
However ... if we really think about it ... and if we’re really honest ... the idea that we are kept from the Word of God because even though we are feverishly looking high and low on our calendars for space to communion with the Lord of the universe we are unable to find a sliver to slide in this spiritual discipline ... well that’s absurd.
Let’s be real about two things. (Well, let’s be real about everything but for this post’s purposes at least two things.) Firstly, we are not looking. Though we say we can’t find space to regularly spend time in the Word, few weeks begin with an intentional investigation of our calendars looking for a daily block of time to commit to reading. Secondly, we have no more time. Perhaps the biggest reason we aren’t looking is because we know the time is not there. We don’t have spare time.
So what must we do?
Well, we must acknowledge our need. If the Word endures, profits, lights, corrects, restores, and reveals then as followers of Jesus we must be sanctified daily in the Word (John 17:17). Therefore we must stop acting as if we are searching for something we know is not there. Then we can begin the hard yet vital work of sacrificing time which is already committed to lesser things. Do you see? We need to stop “finding time” and we must begin “sacrificing time”.
Our use of time says much about what we believe about time’s purpose. We spend time worrying and fearful. We spend time vegging and consuming. We spend time waiting and wondering. As Gordon MacDonald writes in his book, Ordering Your Private World, “unmanaged time always flows to our weaknesses”. There is a magnatism which draws thoughtless minutes and hours toward sinfulness, folly, and waste. So even though we don’t have extra time, much of our time has already gravitated toward our weaknesses and frivolous endeavors. Consequently this reveals something much darker going on beneath the surface of our schedules.
Our lack of time in the Word is not a time issue at all. It’s a heart and gospel issue. We are loving other things, we are enjoying lesser things, we are wasting time on fleeting pursuits all the while acting like we’re looking for space to fit in the Word of God which is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of souls and of spirit, of joint and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).” Do you see? We don’t want to be in the Word, because the Word will correct us, rebuke us, and discern our thoughts and affections.
Reading the Bible is too dangerous.
Reading the Bible is too uncomfortable.
Reading the Bible is too costly.
And so we dabble in the monotony of Christian laziness and simply act like we can’t find the time. I don’t think this is usually true. Instead we don’t want to sacrifice the time because it will wreak our precious pursuits. We don’t want to sacrifice our time to be in the Word because we know when we do we will be compelled to sacrifice bits of our old self and have to release idols of productivity, control, and self-sufficiency.
But those things must die. And by God grace you and I can be renewed in this life-giving discipline.
The good news shines so brightly and brings much hope to our habits of hiding. You see, the Word of God is not merely a bit of literary technology. It is not merely words on a page. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as the only Son from the Father full of grace and truth (John 1:14). When we did not (and do not) go to the Word, the Word came to us—full of grace and truth. And is this not what we so desperately need as we learn to sacrifice lesser pursuits and time commitments? Grace. Truth. We are desperate to be loved in the midst of our sinfully precious pursuits. And that’s what Jesus, the incarnate Word did. He loved us in our sinful pursuits. He came to sacrifice himself for us when we refused to sacrifice ourselves for him.
And so may we leave behind the myth of “finding time”. Instead may we be shaped by the gospel and sacrifice lesser things, lifting high what God himself has exalted above all things—his name and his word (Psalm 138:2).