Monday, August 18, 2014

Slow

image used under Creative Commons license, photo by Steve Depolo on Flickr
You can rush to your destination or enjoy the journey while moving toward your destination. Slow is not bad. -- Sam Chand

When you read the Bible, read it slowly and out loud. It's not how much Bible you get "on you;" it's how much you get "in you." -- Pastor Steve Gaines

Those two thoughts were shared about a week apart. But they are so integrated that they might have come from the same discussion.  And it all relates to mindset.

Our society talks about being fast tracked if we're headed for a job promotion quickly.  There's a game titled "The Need for Speed", with a bad movie based on it.  How often do we hear, "I need it yesterday."?  And what about speed reading?  Or our penchant for instant gratification?  Japan has high speed bullet trains.  They get people from point A to point B very quickly.  But how much of what's in between do the passengers get to experience and savor?

We can blame it on Satan, we can blame it on society.  But there always seems to be more to do than time to do it.  And it all seems to be so important.  But is it, really?  How much of our overcrowded schedules are really because we're chasing things we want?  And how much of of it pushes the important things aside?

Jeremiah 15:16 (KJV)  Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

That verse seems to, in a way, corroborate what we're saying.  Jeremiah is in a spiritual famine. Maybe because he or others gave other things priority.  Maybe because of that society's equivalent of the things that plague our modern day world.  In any case, the phrase "I did eat" speaks not just of eating, but ravenously devouring what was before him.  What would happen if that were physical food?

  1. Jeremiah would be starving, so his body couldn't handle as much food as normal.  Yet, a hungry person's reflex tendency is to eat as much as possible.
  2. Because of being hungry, Jeremiah would be taking in food as quickly as possible -- another example of reflexes would kicking in.
  3. As a result of those two things, not much foods stays down.  The body has its own reflexes.  Eating too much and/or too quickly would cause the food to come back up, the same way it went down.
On the spiritual side, much the same thing would happen.  A spiritually starved person would try to take in as much of the Word in as little time as possible.  The focus would be on quantity, not quality of interaction with the Word.  Quick reading instead of study.  The result could be the reader spewing doctrine that's incorrect because they didn't take the time to properly study.

Let's look at Proverbs 24.  Verses 13 and 14 tell us, "My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste: So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.". The word for "eat" is the same one we've seen before.  Devouring, eating rapidly and as much as possible.  But this verse doesn't say "meat" or "milk".  It says to eat honey.  Honey is more digestible than meat or milk.  And it's packed with more immediately usable nutrients than meat or milk would supply.  Honey is nature's power bar.


2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.".  But, as we see from Proverbs 24, while it's all useful, some is better at being easily digestible and getting doctrine flowing in our soul.

As we read in Hebrews 4:12, "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.".  The problem isn't with the Word, but with our capacity to properly absorb it.  Just like the man who has been starving, he can absorb nutrients from honey, but it takes time for his body to adjust to be able to properly digest milk and meat.

2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

We can't gorge ourselves, we can't wolf it down, like that quick lunch to get back to our work desk. We've all been to someplace where we knew the food was better than what we normally eat. Somehow, we manage to put everything else aside, so that we fully enjoy that meal.  That's acknowledged in Psalm 34:8.  "O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.", is how verse 8 reads.  Taste.  Not a rushed, indiscriminate downing of everything before us.  Instead of taking in everything as quickly as possible, without discerning what has importance and what doesn't.

Again, that isn't saying that there's a shortcoming in the Word of God.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 and Hebrews 4:12 are absolutely true.  But God knows that, just like a starving person, the digestive tract isn't immediately ready for solid, harder to digest food.

Psalm 119:15 (KJV)  I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.

Study and meditation allow us to spiritually grow.  As we do that more, our spiritual digestive tract takes in more and more nutrients from the Word.  And it's capacity to use what it takes in also grows.  We don't want to be riding a bullet train through Scripture.  We want to be like a gourmet, taking time to taste.  Taking time to savor and fully digest.  Which means that part of our relationship with God is making time in our schedule to savor, not just eat what God has given us for our blessing.  That requires a conscious effort on our part.

God knows how much bad or good we can handle.  And He knows how to help us grow in that area. But He won't ignore our free will to choose how we grow, how much we grow spiritually, indeed if we grow.  So, here's the question.  Are you eating or tasting, today?

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