I love sweets and one bite is never enough! Pastries, cakes, pies, Ice cream, candy. I am not picky. If it tastes sweet, my taste buds love it and crave it. Give me the real deal, however! Something that comes close is just not good enough. It’s a poor imitation and an unsatisfying substitute. I prefer nothing at all over something with imitation sugar. Psalm 119:103 “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” I have tasted the sweetness of God’s word, deep satisfaction from community with Him, and it keeps me coming back for more.
As new Bible studies begin at my church, my mind goes to the fundamental purpose of studying God’s word. My heart is then naturally drawn to my God-given desire for believers to be authentically transformed into the likeness of Christ. Romans 12:1-2 “’I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” I’ve had so many conversations with a dear friend and mentor, desiring believers to dig deeper and ponder longer, so they can see the wonder of his word, where it is unconscionable to their hearts to let his word sit unopened for even a day. Her response is faithful and steady, “Just a taste, Angie! I long for them to experience just a taste!” Her request- just the smallest morsel of satisfaction because she knows that one sweet taste leads to another and another and another. She sees the present need for believers that complements my future desire for them. She, however, means a TRUE TASTE, not an imitation one. Do you feel like you fall short from the living sacrifice mentioned in Romans 12:1-2? I know I do. This year I find myself pondering the stumbling blocks that continue to trip me up and the barriers that have prevented me from transformation and discerning God’s will.
Pride. The most common imitation bites I ingest are marinated in pride sauce. It seems sweet upon the initial bite, but quickly leaves a very bad aftertaste. These tend to be the bites that look authentic, but harbor something dark and self-serving. Instead of soaking up the goodness of God from his word, I have made it about myself. At times, I have been led to dark places of worthlessness and shame because I tried to stamp my own approval of myself and found myself lacking. Other times, while still seeking the same validation of worth, I have reached the opposite conclusion of just how clever and righteous I was. I was unable to see the goodness of God because I was too busy looking at myself. The worst is when I found myself seeking to substantiate my position on something and I used the Bible as a weapon to prove that I was right. I shovel the imitation righteousness into my belly with a big spoon. God has taught me to seek Him in His word, to ask Him His perspective. To ask him to reveal himself to me and open my heart to understand Him more and more.
Distraction. Distraction is allowing something to monopolize your thoughts and actions. Where doubt tends to be a fear barrier grounded in the past, distraction is a barrier grounded in the present. What are the roots of distraction? One root is worry of the things of this world. I have been guilty of being obsessed with following and building my own kingdom. I was starving myself and left no room for God. It wasn’t even a conscious thought to leave my Bible unopened from Sunday to Sunday, because I didn’t think about it at all. I was too busy thinking about myself. But, equally dangerous, and much more subtle, is busyness. Satan takes a good, noble thing of hard work, including work for Christ and makes it something consuming. We miss the most important thing, community and following the will of Christ, in our desire to cross things off our list. Our diet is extremely unhealthy but appears good for us because we feel productive.
God has taught me to ponder his word, to get up from my table in the morning and take his word with me. Sometimes it’s a word, or a phrase, sometimes a verse. Additionally, God has impressed on my heart to select a topic to consider for the year, a goal of sorts. When coupling my morning quiet time with the Lord with how he is moving in my heart, my pondering is taken to another level. It becomes an active, relevant conversation, and the conversation becomes a deeper and deeper relationship. I am a firm believer that it is less about how much time you spend feasting in the morning and more about how long you savor the bite. Being busy does not have to be a deterrent. I encourage you to pick up God’s word and take it with you. To wait expectantly and see God move in your day, allow him to solidify his word in your heart.
Comparison. My brain works in overdrive, and I should probably be the last person to be writing for a blog to appeal to the masses. I overthink! I over ponder! Sometimes I think God has wired me so differently than the rest of the world that I cannot be of service to him. Do you ever feel that way? For example, most people would reach into their past to name their greatest regret. Not me, without a doubt, I know my greatest regret would be not knowing God to the fullest that I could know him. My biggest regret is oriented to the future, what could happen, where most people are reflecting on something from their past. God has taught me that He establishes my prosperity and that being different doesn’t render me useless. While my perspective is different, and alienating at times, it’s also beautiful because it usually compels me today, to seek God today. While my struggle is in feeling different, many struggle with feelings that they are nothing special. These feelings of inadequacy can be heightened with Bible study, specifically with the inductive process. We are all tempted by the lie that we have nothing to offer. Let me encourage you today to seek the real deal and not fill yourself with imitation flavoring. Seek God and leave your insecurities behind. God’s word is a place for everyone, relevant to the lives, hearts and minds of us all. After all, we are not so very different. How do each of us eat? One bite at a time!