Have you ever read a passage and assumed you knew exactly what it meant because you have heard sermon after sermon on the passage? Have you read a verse, been inspired by something, and then only be able to be “inspired” by that same point every time you come to that particular verse?
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you would stop, slow down, and patiently dwell on a well-traveled verse? Have you ever wondered if God might just unlock something more if you practiced patience in studying the Word?
On more than a few different occasions I have fallen into the trap of simply reading over a well-traveled verse. On a few occasions I have been challenged to stop and spend a seemingly overly long period of time sitting with one verse. On the occasions that I have taken up the challenge, I have been richly rewarded with fresh light into the Word and a new glimpse at the wonder of my Savior.
If you are willing, and I do hope you are willing, take up the challenge of practicing patience in studying the Word. In fact, try taking up the same challenge that helped change Timothy Keller’s spiritual life as described in Encounters with Jesus (pp x-xi):
I was taught that patience and thoughtfulness were keys to insight. At one point [while in college] I went to a conference for Bible study leaders. I’ll never forget one of the exercises. The instructor gave us one verse, Mark 1:17 (ESV): “And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.'” She asked us to spend thirty minutes studying the verse…She warned us that after five or ten minutes we would think we had seen all there was to see, but she challenged us to keep going. “Write down at least thirty things you see in or learn from the verse.” Ten minutes into the exercise I was finished (or so I thought) and bored. But I dutifully pushed on and kept looking. To my surprise there was more. When we all returned she asked us to look at our list and circle the most penetrating, moving, and personally helpful insight. Then she asked us a question: “How many of you discovered your best insight in the first five minutes? Raise your hands.” No hands. “How many after ten minutes?” One or two hands. “Fifteen?” More. “Twenty?” A large number now raised their hands. “Twenty-five?” Many of us now raised our hands, smiling and shaking our heads.
Those initial experiences with patient, inductive study of the biblical text changed my spiritual life. I discovered that if I spent the time and assumed the proper attitude of openness and trust, God spoke to me through his Word.