I’ll never forget the day: September 1, 2007. At eleven years old, my greatest love in life was college football. It was the opening weekend of the College Football season. It meant the fulfillment of months of anticipation partnered with the anticlimactic reality of your favorite team playing a “cupcake game” (a game against a far inferior opponent). My brother and I grew up Georgia Bulldog and Clemson Tiger fans, respectively, but those aren’t the games we remember from this day.
A few months prior, our family had moved to North Carolina, settling into a rural neighborhood about 20 miles outside Greensboro. One of our neighbors was an alumnus of Appalachian State University, home of the Mountaineers, a school about 100 miles up the road from Greensboro. That day, they were the “cupcake” team playing against the Michigan Wolverines, who were expected to make a run at the National Championship Trophy. When we went to our neighbor’s house to watch the game, we were expecting to watch the first quarter, see a blowout in the making, and flip over to other games that were more competitive.
Then, the inconceivable happened. Appalachian State pulled off the upset! Even to this day, it’s referred to by most as the biggest upset in College Football history. I’ll never forget the joy on my neighbor’s face. A former cheerleader for the Mountaineers, he leapt into song and dance, reciting chants and cheers from his time at App State. The rest of us sat wide-eyed, jaws dropped, glorying in the upset, reminded once more why we loved College Football.
But how did Appalachian State pull it off? How did this David vs. Goliath story become a reality? I’ll propose to you my theory: One team had the right approach to the game, and one didn’t. Michigan had bigger games coming up down the road to focus on. Sure, they had a game against App State to play, but there were more important games ahead. They were distracted, and this game was just a formality to get through so they could get to the games they were really looking forward to. Appalachian State, on the other hand, saw the game for what it was. They saw it as not just another game, but as an opportunity. They were excited about it, they anticipated its arrival, and when the moment came, they were ready. (Click here if you want to read the full story of the game.)
Our approach toward life’s experiences has a tremendous impact on the outcome of those experiences. As a Christian, nowhere have I seen this reality more evident than in my approach to Bible reading. I’ve had more days than I care to admit in which I’ve viewed my Bible reading as another task on my to-do list before I get to the things that really have my attention. If we’re not careful, we will slowly begin to exchange the glory of the immortal God for the little glories of created things. We may be opening and reading His Word, but our distracted minds reveal that our affections lie elsewhere. If you struggle to feel like your Bible reading is consistently fruitful, I pray these observations from Scripture will give you confidence that with the right expectations and preparations, you can enter joyful fellowship with the God of the Word through reading the Word of God.
- Approach Your Bible Reading with Reverence and Humility
“Thus says the Lord:
“Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me,
and what is the place of my rest?
All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things came to be,
declares the Lord.
But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word.”
When we open our Bibles, we aren’t merely reading words on a page. We are hearing from the God who created the earth and all that is in it. When we approach God, we must be conscious of who it is we are approaching, recognizing the privilege it is that we can approach Him. May we never lose our sense of wonder at the truth that the giver and sustainer of life draws near to us through his written Word. What a God we worship, who does not conceal himself but graciously reveals himself!
- Approach Your Bible Reading Expectantly
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. —Hebrews 4:12
We should be expectant when we approach God’s Word, knowing that it has the power to convict our hearts and discern our thoughts and intentions. I always begin my Bible reading in prayer, taking a few moments to pause and quiet my heart before hearing from God. I need those moments of stillness to ask God to remove the distractions from my mind and to give me an open heart to receive what He has to say to me through His Word. Timothy Keller in his Bible Study on the book of Psalms puts it this way, “The Scriptures are not words we simply study as if for an exam, unlocking information to use as we will. These are energies hurled at our hearts. God’s words are designed to penetrate, wound, remove, heal, and infuse us.” When we open God’s Word, we are inviting His Holy Spirit in to do spiritual surgery on our hearts. The words of Scripture initially engage our minds, but through prayerful, contemplative reading, they sink in deeper, transforming our hearts and compelling our hands to action.
- Approach Your Bible Reading as Nourishment for Your Soul.
“Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.”
God’s word gives nourishment to our souls. Like a tree needs water, so we need the promises, commandments, and instructions of our Lord. I love the word picture Jeremy Adelman gives in his article, “Do You Read the Bible Enough?” when he states,
“Imagine a man walking through the desert and in desperate need of water. When he finally finds a river, he experiences overwhelming delight. Kneeling at the riverbank to drink, he is not asking himself, ‘What is the least amount I can drink and still satisfy the thirst I have?’ No, he is asking, ‘How much of this water can I possibly get into me?!’ Like starving beggars, we don’t come to God’s word as a chore but eagerly, as nourishment for our hearts.”
Get alone. Be still. Prepare your heart to receive what God would reveal to you. Drink deeply from the Wellspring of Life. May God, by His grace, make us like the blessed man in Psalm 1, who delights in the law of the Lord, longing for the nourishment it brings.
Student Pastor, Augusta Campus