Wes McGarrah – Ahwatukee Campus Student Pastor
So I used to be a Bible Quizzer…all this means is that while the rest of you were out living normal lives, I was home reading books of the Bible over and over again. I’ll spare you all of the details, but just to put this into context for you, let me explain the winner of the National Tournament my Sophomore year. Josh, a senior from the Midwest, could quote the Gospel of John backwards verse by verse in under an hour! Nuts right. Our team got so pumped about his dedication that we went home and studied like never before. We came back our senior year to the National Tournament in Chicago and beat Richmond Virginia for first place in the nation…yes I could quote most of Hebrews and 1&2 Peter.
So what? Why tell you about my weird nerdiness? I found after high school that the Bible became routine. Something I did out of habit, nothing more, nothing less. When the tournaments went away, so did my desire to pursue the word of God. I no longer found it profitable (2 Tim. 3:16) for any part of my life. To be honest, I was burned out of memorizing verses to get answers. I found that while I could quote books of the Bible verbatim, I couldn’t tell you the real meaning of the passages I had spent so much time with. The Bible was full of words on a page, written a long time ago, that no longer served me.
Uplifting story, right? Makes you want to go encourage your kids to read their Bibles! After a few apathetic years, I knew that I had to start reading the Bible differently. While I could quote Hebrews 4:12, I couldn’t express to you the significance of the Word of God being living and active. I had kept God’s word at bay and didn’t allow it to truly pierce me. That all changed one day when I moved from reading my Bible out of habit, to reading it out of joy because of a real relationship I had with a living and holy God.
You see things differently when you enter into a relationship with someone. You come to appreciate things you had once taken for granted. And, when you are genuinely asking the Spirit to open your heart and mind to the truth of Scripture, you see things you had missed entirely – even when you could quote them.
I’ve gone through all kinds of phases and techniques when it comes to studying the Bible, but nothing has made me see the sweep of Scripture like the Holy Spirit. If you would have asked me how to learn the Bible when I was 18, I would have given you a format to memorize passages. If you were to ask me how to learn the Bible now, I would tell you to pray first and then read. While a lot of verses have gone from my memory in the last 9 years, the truth of Scripture has never been clearer.
Someone once said, “Familiarity breeds contempt”. While this can happen in our daily reading of Scripture, it certainly helps to know who orchastrated the words that can seem so…normal.
“To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his gloryious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” Jude 24-25
This is the God found on every page.