"Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." COLOSSIANS 2:6-8 (emphasis mine).
My word for 2011 was rooted. I wanted to be rooted in God's Word and free from the elementary principles of this world. The church today looks so much like the world. It wearies me. I want something different. I want something real. I want something more. And I knew that there was no way I could do that without being firmly grounded in the eternal Word of God.
I knew that no matter what I tried to do in life, no matter what noble acts of selflessness or generosity I performed, my life would never really and truly change until I was rooted in God's word. As I learned in 2010, I wanted to run away from the elementary principles of the world and instead run to Christ. And although I tried for years to fool myself, there is no way to become more like Christ and live with more of an eternal perspective without being rooted in His word.
I'm sorry. It just can't happen. We can go to church, make good choices, serve faithfully in work and ministry, and give until it hurts, but unless our hearts and minds are rooted in the Word, real change can never happen. The fruit of our lives will never be of Christ.
Just think of what it means to be rooted. If a plant does not have it's roots in the soil, it will never produce.
Or think of that old high school thing where they dye carnations in your school colors. At my school, they stuck white carnations in green food coloring and guess what happened? The flowers turned green. And so it is with life. If we stick our roots in the world (television, movies, popular books, prosperity theology, sports, money, and so on), the color of our lives will look the same. It can't happen any other way. But if we root ourselves in the Word of God—the eternal, living and active Word—then slowly our hearts and minds and words and deeds start to look like the Word. It won't happen overnight. It won't happen by reading a verse a day and then a bunch of fluff from a devotional. It won't happen if we try to cram in some Bible reading a few times a month or try to get a week's supply on Sunday morning.
But regular, meaningful and focused attention to the Word can bring real change.
I started the year once again working with the Bible in 90 days program. I got about half way through (somewhere in Isaiah) and then the end-of-pregnancy blues set in and I wasn't up for doing anything other than waiting for my baby to make her entrance into the world. And then, on March 17, she came, and the next few months were busy. I spent a lot of time reading, but I wasn't in the Word. I longed for it and yet I was struggling so much to get into a groove and find a schedule that worked. And sometimes, I was just lazy. Sometimes, I really just wanted to read my email instead.
The longing still remained, though. And then one morning in May, something changed.
It was early in the morning and I was the only one up. I heard a door open and one of my little ones come out. Then I heard another voice. The first one said, "Where's mama?" And the second one said, "She's probably at her computer."
A part of my heart died in that moment. Great. When my kids don't know where I am, their assumption is that I am on the computer. That was not what I wanted. It was a sobering wake-up call. I wanted something so much more. Not only did I long to spend time in the Word, but also I wanted to be that example for my kids. I wanted to model for them the habits I so desperately want them to cultivate. And so I decided to make a change.
In early June, we moved houses. I may be a little odd, but I love to move. I don't like the work, but I love the newness of it all and I love the chance to start over and begin new habits and new routines.
I made the decision that my first activity in the morning would be my Bible time. I had recently discovered D.A. Carson's For the Love of God (Volumes 1 and 2) and although I was a little apprehensive about reading in four different places in Scripture a day, I wanted a fuller picture of the Biblical narrative and this commentary seemed to set out to do just that. In follows the M'Cheyne Bible-reading schedule which takes you through the Old Testament once in a year and the New Testament and Psalms, twice. In addition, I started reading a Proverb each day (corresponding to the day of the month), and always, always, my beloved Daily Light.
It was hard at first. I had to walk out of my room, ignore the computer, and head downstairs. I had to find a comfortable place to sit and I had to learn the discipline to fill my mind and heart with the Word first thing. Surprisingly, it didn't take long until the habit was formed. For almost eight months now, each morning as I rise, I head downstairs, grab a cup of coffee, head to the front room, grab my Bible and Kindle, and dig in.
I am not even sure I can begin to explain the the changes this discipline has brought to my life. I'm so saddened by the fact that I have wasted so many years just pretending to be in the Word. Living on fluff instead of the Bread of Life.
I have seen real changes in my heart, my priorities, my desires, and my dreams. I have seen changes in my attitude, my words, and my patience. I have seen changes in my reactions to being wronged, changes in the way I spend my time, and changes in the internal dialogue that constantly goes through my mind. Changes. Real changes. Some of them I had to work for, but honestly, many of them I believe was simply through the daily feasting on the Word. It is living and active! It will not return void! It is eternal! We spend so much of our life begging God to give us direction, all the while, the one and only thing that God says will be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path sits there and gathers dust.
And if all of that weren't enough, now when the kids get up in the morning, they always come to the front room to find me. They cuddle up on the couch and (usually) wait quietly for me to finish. If I am not there, they come and see me and say, "Oh, you already finished your Bible time?" And I say with a huge grin, "Yep."