"Slow down, slow down."
Have you ever read Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech?
The main character, whose voice the book is written in, Sal (or Salamanca, if we're getting fancy), often references a faint whisper she hears in her mind on her journey. It started out as "hurry, hurry, hurry" & "rush, rush, rush," but by the end, turned into "slow down, slow down."
Today, during my devotion time, I was reminded of these moments in the story.
I just started a study on 1 + 2 Timothy, Titus & Paul's words to the church. My first assignment was to read 1 Timothy 1:1-11. Verses 5-7 (ESV) say,
"The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart & good conscience & sincere faith. Certain persons, swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions."
Verses 8-10 go on to say that the law is laid down for the "lawless & disobedient" sinners. Verse 11 wraps the section up with, "in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted."
We have been entrusted with the gospel. What does that mean?
Entrust means to "assign the responsibility for doing something to someone" or to "put something into someone's care or protection."
When we accept Jesus into our heart & begin to walk into the role of what it truly means to be a Christian, God is putting the gospel into our care & protection. We are now responsible for it. Others will see a representation of God through our words & actions. It's our job as a follower of Jesus & we need to take it very seriously. How, then, should we take care of it?
Let's jump back up to the first section I bolded: "desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions."
How often do we speak on behalf of the gospel without having a firm understanding of what we are talking about? I don't know about you but for me, it's so easy to want to share my own opinion or to be caught off guard by someone's inquiry & not take the necessary moment to ask God what I should say before I answer their question.
It's also so easy for me to speed through my devotions, not wanting to take the time to understand what I just read because "I'm too busy" or "have other things to get done."
This morning, after finishing my reading, I asked God the question, "how would You like me to take care of Your gospel?" I immediately heard a Salamanca-like whisper saying, "slow down, slow down."
While I chose which reading plan I would pursue, I believe God is going to use it to prepare me for my day, the people I will interact with & the obstacles I will face. If I believe that, I need to take these words seriously, understanding them to the best of my ability. I can't do this if I speed through my readings, wanting to quickly place a checkmark by "did my devotions for the day."
In fact, I almost didn't write all of this out because I thought it would take too long to put my thoughts on a page. However, I'm glad I did because it helps me to better reveal my mindset & I'm never disappointed by the ways He reveals Himself to me when I open up my heart to listen to Him. He never fails at showing His love. You'd think we'd learn that by now! Praise God for his continued patience with us.
I don't have a "10 Steps to Understanding the Bible" or "How to Listen to God" list for you — I don't fully know what to do either. I wrote this more for myself, as an active way to let God know I'm listening & the accountability that goes with putting my words out there. I pray, though, that if you're reading this, you will be encouraged to pursue Jesus with an all-in mentality. Don't worry about the quantity of time or not knowing what a word means, but do give it the amount of time YOU need, whatever that means to you, & go against your pride to ask God or a mentor (or, let's be honest, Google) when you need help understanding.
Lord, stir in us an intense desire to UNDERSTAND Your Word by asking You to reveal Your thoughts to us & further researching the verses we've read. Grant us patience to sit, listen & pursue Your response. Show Your strength through us so we may act with boldness in relaying Your messages to those around us. Give our words clarity. Help us to represent & steward Your gospel well.