On the first day of preschool for my oldest daughter three years ago, I drove up to the doorway. The teacher leaned in to open the car door and greeted my beaming girl, who had her hair done up sweetly and her clothes picked out special.
Other children had been lifted out of the car by the expert educator, as they screamed for mom and hung their heads low in sorrow at the separation.
Not my daughter. She bounced out the door and practically sprinted down the hallway to the classroom. So much for separation anxiety.
I, on the other hand, wiped away tears. For two hours, I would not know what she was doing or whether she needed me.
At the end of the day, I wanted a full report on all her activities. Instead, the teacher helped her back into the car and said, “She had a good day!”
A whole two hours of her life spent without me there even to watch.
Truly, it’s the difficult goal of parenthood—to train our children so they function independently. Teach them what they need to know now so that they succeed tomorrow.
While God never trains us for independence, He is forever building into our lives, hearts and minds today what we will need the next day and the day after that.
And sometimes we miss it.
So often recently, I have heard people denounce the study of God’s Word in favor of what is “practical” and “relevant,” what’s meaningful to them right now rather than digging in deep to the Scripture. We want to learn “how to” rather than learn who God is. We shrug off discipleship in favor of temporary spiritual programs built around a single verse or two.
Now, personal application matters. The holy words on these pages aren’t there for amusement, or intellectual stimulation, or comfort alone. If we read without change, we are missing it. We are missing all that Scripture was intended to be for us.
But, how are we to know now what will matter in our lives tomorrow? If we seek only that which has immediate application to our lives today, here, now, in this situation, the Bible becomes nothing more than a Band-Aid for life’s boo-boos or a pocket map for our life’s journey.
To celebrate the last day of summer vacation, I sat down with my girls today and had a heart-to-heart about the beginning of school. (I know some of you have already started the school year, but for us it begins tomorrow).
I looked them in the eyes in all their bright-eyed excitement about school and making new friends and opening new crayons and learning new ideas . . . and I gave them the most important instructions I could think of for the year:
- Do not wait to go to the bathroom until it’s an emergency.
- Go to the bathroom before you go to the playground for recess and before you get on the bus at the end of the day.
- Raise your hand and ask your teacher permission to go to the restroom.
- Close the door behind you.
- Flush when you are done.
- Wash your hands.
To me, these seemed like essential words of wisdom. To them, they seemed banal and unimaginative.
Just wait until they have to go to the bathroom tomorrow . . .
God so often is giving us the training we need for the future, and we in similar fashion, roll our eyes, shrug our shoulders, and avert our gaze at anything so boring, so unnecessary, so impractical.
How could David know that days spent in the fields watching boring, stinky sheep would train him to be a warrior king?
How could Moses know that a childhood in an Egyptian palace and 40 years in the wilderness moving sheep around would prepare him to be the deliverer of the Hebrew nation from 400 years of slavery and then the leader of that nomadic people for another 40 years?
How could Joseph know how years spent managing Potiphar’s house as a slave and another season managing his fellow convicts while wrongfully imprisoned would prepare him to save the entire Egyptian nation and the surrounding countries from a 7-year famine?
How could they know? How do you know as you sit with your Bible before you what verse you will need to whisper in the night a year from now or the passage you’ll need to cling to even a decade later?
We don’t know. But God does.
So, we open up His Word and we dig deep. We search passionately—not just for the solution to our current problem or the manual for our present situation—but we search for Him, God Himself, and who He is. We sit attentive in His classroom and become the student of God’s character through the study of His Word.
The Psalmist wrote:
I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word (Psalm 119:10-16).
The Psalmist was a dedicated student of Scripture and he tells us how to be the same in this passage. He tells us:
- Seek God—not what He can do for you, but God Himself, with all your heart.
- Memorize Scripture and call it to mind during moments of temptation.
- Give God praise.
- Ask Him to teach you.
- Talk to others about what you’re learning from time spent in His Word.
- Treat God’s Word like it’s a treasure chest filled to the brim with the most magnificent jewels imaginable.
- Spend time meditating, contemplating, and praying through the Bible and what it reveals about Him.
And more than anything else, do not neglect His word. You’re guaranteed to need it, if not today then tomorrow.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.