As we gaze at 2020 from the rear-view mirror, all of us have learned some positive — and negative — things from the chaos last year. And it’s probably fair to assume most are looking forward to a fresh start and hopefully a safe, healthy and prosperous 2021.
Maybe you have picked a New Year’s Resolution and are still excited with your decision. If so, good for you. Stay with it. I have started strong in the past to add resolutions to my life but many of them fizzled and are not visible now from my rear-view mirror.
However, I am excited to share with you about something I committed myself to do back in October of 2008. October is certainly not January, but positive life enhancements can be initiated at any time during the year.
This discipline has become a cherished part of my morning routine. And, because this practice is so important to my daily ritual, the thought of setting it aside is unthinkable.
First a little history:
Back in third grade our Sunday School class received our Bibles in front of the entire congregation at church. I took home this red, soft-bound book with gilded edge and lettering, glanced through it to look at the pictures, and set it aside. For many years.
There have been times in my life when I picked a Bible up and read some familiar passages, or chapters of individual Gospels but nothing really clicked. Longing for a closer relationship with our Lord and truthfully acting on that desire are diametrically opposed.
To God, everything happens at the right time and this is how it went down for me. Some years ago, I became a part of a men’s group from the church we attended that met on Wednesdays at 6:30 a.m. in the church office. On one occasion, we chatted about a way to read the Bible and apply it to everyday life.
We read Wayne Cordeiro’s book “The Divine Mentor” and in it he rolls out an insightful way to bring greater meaning and purpose to the written Word.
The format we used was SOAP.
This acronym stands for Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer. All we did was write down a specific scripture, discussed and journaled what we observed was happening around that time in the verses, talked about and inscribed how the Scripture could apply to my/our present-day condition or circumstance, and, finally, share and write a brief prayer. Each SOAP ended up looking like a devotional.
Now, to be honest, I started strong with SOAP, but sadly, the intention did not take root and become a habit. What remained, though, was a commitment to dig into the Living Word regardless of initial doubts and fervently pray for the Holy Spirit to open the Scriptures to me so I could comprehend them more fully.
The result is a journey that I couldn’t have even imagined when this all began. My Bible is marked up a lot. It’s OK to write in yours or highlight whatever as you grow in your faith. Jesus just wants you to use it.
I have seen many Bibles of Christ followers that are so dog-eared and worn out from intentional use. Both are beautiful to behold!
The amazing thing is that God might reveal something today in Scripture and next year, or next week, he might take you in a totally different direction based on what is happening in your life with those very same verses.
If you have to blow the dust off yours, no worries! If you can’t find yours or simply don’t own a Bible, there are some translations out there that use everyday language and are easier to understand, like The Message or The Passion Translations. The Bible I currently use is the English Standard Version.
If you are serious about committing to read God’s Love Letter to you consistently over time, He will expand your ability to love Him more and you will be reminded daily how extravagantly He loves you.
Maybe the Holy Spirit is prompting you now … to begin traveling down the path to a more intimate relationship with your Creator.
I know it has made a tremendous difference in my life. Hope it will in yours.
Joe Wagley is a Realtor and broker in Lenawee County. He is the owner of The Wagley Group in Adrian. He can be reached at 517-265-6000 or by email at Joe@TheWagleyGroup.com.