“And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.’
And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.’” (Mark 8:31-38, NASB, companion passage to Matthew 16: 21-27)
So now we have determined the time we will set aside to intentionally read and study God’s word. That’s the first step in a “camp out” in the scriptures. You have to be reading the Word to experience a passage standing out, calling you to come aside and spend some time there.
I do not avoid the seemingly difficult or hard sections of scripture. I remember when I would sit in church and felt like I could go through the motions of the morning service half asleep and not miss a beat. Those were the days of the stirrings of a desire to know God and his Word, when I began to seek a challenge from what God said, to understand it and run with it. Surely there was more to Christianity than these boring formalities. Whatever that “more” was, it would be like a splash of cold water on a sweltering day. Refreshment. God’s Word would wake me up!
Now let me clarify, I was feeling frustrated and bored with church not so much because anyone else was doing something “wrong,” but because I was a baby Christian and God was bringing me from spiritual crawling to the point of beginning to stand and walk.
A baby has to want to walk and not be satisfied with crawling on all fours. That’s where I was, spiritually speaking; tired of the old, itching for the new. But I didn’t understand that yet; all I knew is that I was frustrated with the boredom of church as usual. God was nudging me to get up and walk.
In our women’s Bible study this week we were asked to write a prayer for ourselves as we begin the study of the book of Hebrews. My friend Betsy wrote: “Challenge me to be intent on my study in Hebrews, that I will grow spiritually during these weeks. Thank you for the gift of Your Word—may it become more alive for me daily.”
We should seek to be challenged by God’s words. When we are confronted with things too big for us to understand in our human finiteness, that is the very moment we have the opportunity to expand our faith in the God who spoke those difficult to understand words. We can choose to rise to the challenge.
Do we reject and turn away from something we cannot mentally grasp or a problem we can’t solve? If we all did that in ordinary life, we’d still be living in caves and gnawing on raw meat.
In the same way, we should not reject or avoid challenges in our spiritual lives or from God’s Word. God intends us to stand up and learn to walk, meeting the challenges to our ideas and interests and adopting God’s ideas and interests. This is one reason he sent his Spirit to be with us, to teach us.
Mastering our time and rising to the challenge set before us by God in his Word, learning to embrace God’s interests as we unwrap our arms from our own interests, this is what camping out in God’s Word can stir up in us.
Scriptures taken from New American Standard Bible (NASB). http://www.lockman.org/