Friday, October 4, 2013

Reading is Not My Favorite Thing

Reading is Not My Favorite Thing
Peggy Mack
October 4, 2013

One of the gifts I have received in the past four months of writing my thoughts and acknowledging God in my life, is the appreciation for study.  Now for some who love to read that seems like a comfortable endeavor, but for this old school teacher whose eyes are tired and often glaze over, reading is one of my least rewarding and satisfying choices.  Dottie has taught me to place a soft ply carry-on bag beside me filled with devotional books from numerous authors, several pens and a notebook, a journal for prayers which holds the names of those who I hold in prayer, a spare pair of reading glasses and finally, the most important part of all is my Bible.  Always focus on the Bible, Dottie told me.  It is my go to source for knowledge.

Now, having read almost every morning in my devotions and time of prayer with God, I have realized that tiny "aha" moments come to me as if I am seeing things clearly for the first time.  I suppose the proper term for those are revelations, but it is too big a word for the occurence.  So, I prefer "aha!".  

My most recent moment of enlightenment came when I realized how simple God's lessons are for us to learn if we only sink ourselves into them with open minds and hearts.  I have long valued Bible readings on Sunday morning and Bible study with a group in Sunday School, but somehow this private time in meditation and study has yielded so much more for me.  The only way I can explain it is to say, the readings I am lead to through my devotionals are personal messages for my life on a specific day.  They touch me to the core and give me a clearness of thought that I have never felt in church or Sunday School.  For that reason alone, I have to encourage you to consider making your own "bag of devotional goodies" and making the effort to dedicate 30 minutes a day to communicating with God through reading and prayer and meditation.  Meditation is an important part of my process because basically I quit telling God what I want and start listening and sensing what God is telling me through His word. 
In that process I receive rest, peace of mind, clarity of thought and a focus on where I might make a difference.

Why would I have lived 63 years and never have seen the importance in studying God's word on a daily basis.  To me, the hard head and independent one, I always felt like the Wesley brothers were telling me to get with the program and do it because they said so. Well, I have never warmed up to that approach, AT ALL!  NO, not Peg!  I have always been known to go kicking and screaming into any kind of regimented, ordered activity.  I feel the walls closing in on me without someone explaining what I am going to get out of it.   Dottie did that for me.  She made me realize that God is so amazing and powerful, larger than infinity itself and we are not able to begin to "understand" Him.  Through God's word, the Bible, we are slowly shown the relationship God wants us to have with Him.  We slowly see that He has created us with brains that are capable of comprehending that God made this universe and all that is in it and that He gave us His son to clean up the messes we sinners continue to make.  His mercy is endless as is His love for each of us, His creations.  With our belief we are showered with grace and mercy.  But that is not the end of the story.  If it were, we would be fixed.  The problem is that we often during moments in every single day go running off on our own trails convinced we can "handle" something.  And BAM! the balloon pops, frustration sets in with a good dose of mad and angry.  Then you hear the familiar wail, "Oh Lord!"
We are called to invite God into every moment of our days. We are encouraged to envoke the Holy Spirit to enlighten us.  We are challenged to walk in faith with goodness and kindness and patience and love. 

Where do we learn?  We learn through study.  I knew from the age of ten that I wanted to be a teacher just like Mrs. Cook, my fourth grade teacher in Macon, Georgia.  She was the epitome of Southern grace, but she was also a light of God's love.  She was forever soft spoken, gentle, patient and forgiving while maintaining order and filling our minds with knowledge.  Although my memories are fuzzy these 53 years later, I do remember having to stay after school on numerous occasions to write "I will not talk in class 50 times".  Somewhere along the way she should have realized it was not changing me.  But I forgive her gentle soul because she had no way of knowing God knew I was going to love teaching Kindergarten and would need lots of talking in my life.  She had no way of knowing I would fall in love with words and writing.  All she knew was that Peg would not hush and was disturbing her quiet order in the classroom.  She filled me with a love for reading and went to work solving endless mysteries with Nancy Drew.  I have not loved or hungered for reading like that until this summer when Dottie said, "Well, if you want me to help, this is what I do for my devotions each morning."

Knowledge and understanding comes through reading and studying.  Gosh that seems so obvious doesn't it?  I am not memorizing verses to be repeated in Sunday school to get my star on the chart.  I am not studying my lesson to hash out opinions in an adult Sunday school class where the topic often strays far from the reading.  I am studying and reading each morning and feeling new joy and discovering a clearer view of how I can follow Christ.  I used to love the well worn phrase, "light bulb moment".   I saw those little light bulbs go on in little Kindergarteners so often and their eyes would gleam as a smile crossed their face and they would proudly announce, "I can tie my shoes!"  or "I wrote my numbers to 20 all by myself!" or "I can READ!"  Light bulb moments are such a joy.  For me, thanks to my friend from high school days, my little light bulb keeps lighting up with new understanding. Knowledge is power it is true but in this case, knowledge is a closer walk with God.  Here's the key to understanding.  Find a comfortable way to develop time to read each day and get ready for the lights to go on in your heart and mind and soul.  Reading may no longer be my favorite thing due to aging eyes but spending time in reading about God in my life and searching for answers in His Word have truly enlightened me.

Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for placing special people in our path that open our minds and hearts to you.  Thank you for gently teaching us more about you through each time we spend in studying your Word.  We believed in you and you showered us with grace and mercy and love.  Your word is truly the finest book ever written.  You enlighten us and reveal yourself to us through the lessons recorded in the Old and New Testament.  In those words we find our source for understanding, peace, grace, hope and love. Thank you, Lord.
In Jesus' Name,

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