“Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”(Deuteronomy 32:46-47 ESV)
I still remember buying my first bible soon after becoming a Christian. It was an NIV with a brown bonded leather cover and after four years it literally fell apart. To me the words in that bible truly meant life to me and as I read I found the hunger to know God grew, so the motivation to keep reading built. After the first complete reading, re-reading had more depth because I now knew, at least superficially, the whole story.
Unfortunately that passion cooled and the momentum dwindled. It would be nice to say that I began to read more deeply but slowly, chewing over the word of God. However that would be a lie, or at best only partly true — I fell into a big, deep spiritual hole and lost all interest in the bible for a couple of years. After that it became an exercise in discipline to read the bible, like doing physical exercise I knew that it was good for me and once trained in it would be enjoyable, but getting a spiritually flabby heart into shape is every bit as hard as getting flabby flesh active again. The key is persistence over time, regardless of failures along the way.
Fortunately persistence has paid off, I again crave the bible. Although there are more distractions in my life (children and computers perhaps being the major ones) I am pushing the roots of my life deeper into biblical soil. A valuable lesson learned from plummeting into a slough of despond and being trapped in doubting castle is that times of spiritual depression are not when I want to be trying to build strength in Christ — that has to already be there. It is when things are going well that I need to be building myself up even stronger in the faith so that when the time of trial comes again there are resources to draw upon. One of those resources is a deep knowledge of Scripture (others would be a solid prayer life, robust Christian friendships, strong fellowship with mature Christians, and a deep humility before God).
I was reminded that the bible really does contain the words of eternal life as I read the latest newsletter from Vision Beyond Borders which praised God for being able to deliver bibles to Christians in countries where owning a bible can get a person into serious trouble with law enforcement authorities. The freedom I enjoy to be a Christian without being hassled is not normal for many (maybe most) in the kingdom of God.
But [Jesus] answered, “It is written,
“’Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
(Matthew 4:4 ESV)