I love order. I love having set rules and knowing exactly what is expected of me. When it comes to Bible studies I love having someone else decide on the pace and have questions thought out ahead of time. I really enjoy sitting down with my Bible, my notebook, and pen. With those three things I'm ready to "study" and answer all the questions put out in front of me. When I'm done reading my section and writing down my answers and observations I open my Bible to yet another chapter and start in on my other Bible study that is well thought out and put together completely, forgetting what I just read in my last study. With a final stab of my pen I end my last sentence, close my notebook, click my pen, close my Bible and move on.
Every day I would feel accomplished. I got through two Bible studies! But what did I learn? What scripture was I holding on to through out the day? Nothing... Nada! Sure in the moment I learned something and loved it! Lights were being turned on in my mind, but I didn't have the time to allow that light to stay on and grow brighter. And my relationship with Christ wasn't growing.
But it's better to read more scripture each day right? It's better to get in to as many Bible studies as possible right, to learn as much as possible in one sitting?
For some this is perfectly fine, even beneficial. But for me it was becoming a chore. Some days I dreaded opening my Bible because I saw all the curriculum piling up in front of me. Other days I looked at it as a challenge to get through.... to get through. Not to digest, not to grow in... no, to get through. I was getting burned out.
I felt like I was hearing a lot about "check lists" lately. My pastor has this analogy for doing things for His glory, but based on what we want to do. Pastor Tim calls it the donut.
At first Christ is the center and we really want to do things to bring Him glory. We start out with a Bible study, that's great! God wants us in His word! We then think, "Well I should do another one so that I'm doing more for Him!" Ok.... if you can handle that and if God is still the center then awesome! Go for it! Pretty soon you're adding on service projects, you're taking on more and more and suddenly it becomes about the things and what you're getting done instead of bringing God glory. God is no longer the center.. POP! He's out and you're left with a hole. What are you doing all those "Things" for? You have nothing in the center. You're a donut!
I felt like that was what was happening with my devotional time. I was trying to do more and more. I had even considered adding a third study. Again for some people this really does work! But for my perfectionist, structure loving self, it became about getting stuff done. I felt the loneliness of not having a close relationship with Christ. I didn't feel like I was really learning anything or growing closer to Him.
But I could do it! I knew I could! I just had to work harder, get up earlier! But it wasn't about time, it wasn't about working harder. I could easily do the devotions, but I wasn't allowing the time to really dig into them and allow God to open my eyes to what He wanted to show me. I had to get both done... that's all it was about.
So though my schedule loving flesh yelled out in protest I asked God what He wanted from me. I felt the answer right away. "Give up some of the stuff and just follow Me. I will show you what I want."
So this week I gave up a Bible study and decided to follow after God in a true walk with Him. The minute I dropped one of the studies I felt light and hopeful! I have dug into my other study with excitement and expectancy. I denied my desires and decided to stop "studying" and start devoting my time to Him who created me and saved me.