Recently I watched a video where the Kimyal people on the island of West Papua, Indonesia, were given Bibles in their own language for the first time. I was moved, almost to the point of tears, at their response to the gift they were receiving. These people would be able to read the Word of God in their own language for the first time ever in their lives. The first thing that came to my mind after seeing that was the number of Bibles in my apartment alone, and how little time I spend studying any of them. I even have multiple Bible apps on each of my high-tech mobile devices, yet I still squeeze in time in the Word only when it's convenient for me.
We have it so easy in America. We take for granted the fact that we have the Word of God at our disposal at any given moment. Even the time that we do spend in the Word, usually our minds wander as we are reading, and so we are not really diving into what the text says. Many of us have Bible reading plans for throughout the year, and we end up reading each day just to say that we completed the task. How much are we retaining of this Truth which is so vital to our existence?
The psalmist in Psalm 119 says, "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you" (v.11). Often we pray that God would guide us through our day, yet we do not spend appropriate time being shaped and guided by God's Word. The only way that He can effectively guide us is if we are continually listening to Him in His Word. We cannot understand what true obedience looks like until we have seen the commands and examples in Scripture that show us the path to holiness.
The convenience of the Word in our day has caused us to not spend time in it. It's just like what has happened with memorizing phone numbers. It used to be that you had to remember the phone number of people that you wanted to talk to. Now we can check our smartphones, search for a person's name, and call them without even looking at their phone number once. It took me a while to memorize my girlfriend's phone number for this exact reason (but I do have it memorized now). Now, because we have completely searchable and convenient Bibles right in our pockets, we have not put in any effort to remember where certain passages are located or precisely worded. Our minds have been filled with other, less important things. We are not storing up God's Word in our hearts, we're letting our phones and our bookshelves take care of that for us. And it is precisely because of this that so many people in this country claim to be Christians and yet have no idea what that even means.
There was a time when we English-speakers were not unlike the Kimyal people. I remember the first time I got to see the presentation by Truth Remains, an organization that allows you to see and touch some of the earliest English translations of the Bible. The one that struck me the most was one called the Great Bible (perhaps named such because of its great size, maybe referring to the greatness of the truth found within, or maybe the translator had a certain level of hubris....). This Bible was chained to the pulpit of the local church, because otherwise families would break in and steal it so that they could read it for themselves. Imagine if that were the case today, if we had so little access that we would resort to stealing the congregation's Bible just so that we could have a taste of it. Most of us don't have that kind of hunger at all.
How can we claim to live out what the Bible says if we never open it? This year, as part of my "New Year's Resolutions," I committed to reading through the entire Bible at least twice this year, as well as memorizing a book of the Bible. I have begun to memorize the book of Ephesians. It's slow going, especially since I haven't been in the habit of memorizing anything in a long while (unless it's music), but it has been rewarding. I'm not saying that you should do the same, but you should be able to commit to spending more time in the Word this year, and every year following. Experience the joy of hearing from our Creator and Father. Pray along with me, "Lord, give me a mind to remember Your Word, so that I may cherish and obey it every day. Help me store up Your Word in my heart, that I would not be inclined to sin against You."
A simple servant of the Master.