EXPERIENCING Jesus Through the Scriptures is a 10-week course birthed out of my own journey back to God. I had worked on staff at church for 9 years leading high school students in their own faith journey and creating environments for others to experience God. In the work of creating spaces for others to encounter Christ in meaningful ways, I overlooked my own spiritual journey. How was I encountering Christ? I am so tired and busy! Now, I never had a crisis of faith or anything, but I didn’t know how disconnected I was until I left my position.
I spent the next four months reevaluating everything. Instead of just teaching the Bible, I was reading it for myself. Instead of thinking of ways to make Sunday services better, I began closing my eyes and participating in them. I began praying on my knees. I would raise my hands in my kitchen with worship music on when no one was looking. I started being still for once, in the silence of my home and in the silence of my heart. That is when it happened. I felt God again. I started doing all the things I was teaching others and I began to experience Him instead of just going through the motions.
And here’s what I learned. It’s not rocket science. There’s no magic formula. Connecting with God is really simple, it just requires one thing. Time. Nike was right. The secret is, “just do it.”
I also learned another tough truth. We can’t run on fumes. Just because I had a good quiet time yesterday, doesn’t mean I can dial it in today. Every day we start back at start. Every day we have to be with Jesus. Our spiritual journey is relational and time with God is transformational. It’s vital.
So I started making bread. It was a holy experience for me. The simple ingredients. The rising. The reminder of time, of provision, sitting on my kitchen counter. The flour and dough in my hands the next day. The heat and smell of bread baking. And the cutting and serving, nourishing my loved ones each morning.
Remember when God was dropping bread from the sky in Exodus 16? Oprah would have loved it. I could just see it now, “You get a loaf!” You get a loaf!” Here is what really went down. “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day.”
You catch that? FOR THAT DAY.
Not enough bread for the week.
For the month.
For the freezer.
He said FOR THAT DAY.
You should read Exodus 16. It’s so us. The wandering, complaining Israelites are whining about what they are going to eat, blaming Moses and Aaron for their circumstances when God hears them. He gives them instructions to collect what they need for each day, but some of them didn’t listen. They were worried and didn’t trust that God would provide, so they decided to take matters into their own hands. Let’s pick it up in verse 17.
17 So the people of Israel did as they were told. Some gathered a lot, some only a little.
18 But when they measured it out, everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough. Each family had just what it needed.
19 Then Moses told them, “Do not keep any of it until morning.”
20 But some of them didn’t listen and kept some of it until morning. But by then it was full of maggots and had a terrible smell. Moses was very angry with them.
21 After this the people gathered the food morning by morning, each family according to its need. And as the sun became hot, the flakes they had not picked up melted and disappeared.
22 On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much as usual—four quarts for each person instead of two. Then all the leaders of the community came and asked Moses for an explanation.
23 He told them, “This is what the Lord commanded: Tomorrow will be a day of complete rest, a holy Sabbath day set apart for the Lord. So bake or boil as much as you want today, and set aside what is left for tomorrow.”
I love this next part. God was reminding them to be dependent on Him for their every need, day by day. But on the sixth day, He tells them to collect twice as much. Why? Because the seventh day was a day of rest. Sound familiar?
God was teaching them to live by the creation rhythm! We see God continuing to invite them back to this place of trust and provision, and we see the people continue to want more and question God. It is only in their obedience they are satisfied. God says he gives us exactly what we need. No more, no less, day by day.
But we have the Israelite complex. We forget.
Rhythm can become mundane. Boring even. Here’s the problem I think most of us face. We get stuck. Like a hamster on a wheel, we just get stuck in our routines, our rhythms and our excuses. Sometimes, we just need someone to come along and stick a pencil right in our wheel to throw us off.
Experiencing Jesus Through the Scriptures is your pencil. It’s a way to freshen up the rhythm so your faith doesn’t get stale or maggots in it. For the next ten weeks, we will be trying new spiritual disciplines and exercises designed to help us connect with God in fresh ways. Some practices you may like a lot. Others will feel like you are wearing a swimsuit that just doesn’t fit (ew). But just go with it. You never know unless you try it on. Unless you just do it.
So for you “type A’s” in the group, I got you. What will the time actually look like?
First, we will start out silent. Because if you are anything like me, you will come in here guns blazing from our hectic day. We will get quiet, take some deep breaths and connect with our bodies and become aware of our environment. Some weeks we may start by journaling or reviewing.
Then, we will pray and read the Scripture for the week out loud. That’s for our audio learners.
Next, we will journal and work through the workbook pages I will be giving you each week (like the page you’re reading now). After we spend time quietly working though the text and journaling our insights, we will share as a group insights from our notes.
Then, we will put into practice a spiritual discipline or exercise that is designed to make the text and your insights sticky. (That means, help you remember.)
That’s it! You’re only homework will be applying what you’ve learned. And for those overachievers, each week you will have the opportunity to “take it one step further” with an additional challenge for home.
At the end of each week, we will identify one truth, one bottom line, one major take away. You will answer this question. “In light of ALL that I read or learned, what is the one thing that stands out to me the most?” Maybe it’s a word. A promise. A sentence. In fact, you can go ahead now and reserve the first few pages of your journal for this. Title it, “TOP 10”. This is where you will write down your bottom line each week.
Let’s get started (register) EXPERIENCING JESUS THROUGH THE SCRIPTURES.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.