How good it is for us to be thrown back on God, knowing more deeply than ever that if we are to see at all, he must give us sight. How good to sing with the psalmist, “As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he has mercy upon us” (Psalm 123:2). In God’s good time, if we do not give up, the unfolding of his words will give light (Psalm 119:130).
As Christians, we are not interested in merely reading our Bibles. We want to be moved, inspired, changed by what we read. We do not wake up early simply to pass our eyes over the pages of Scripture. We come to meet God (1 Samuel 3:21). We come to taste honey and gather gold (Psalm 19:10). We come to “rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8). That means days of ordinary devotions, as we’ve all experienced, can be all the more disappointing.
As any faithful Bible reader knows, many devotional times come and go without fireworks. We may get alone, ask for God’s help, read attentively, and then rise up feeling — normal. Our time in the living, active, inspired word of God has felt spectacularly ordinary.
Sometimes, the ordinariness comes as a result of our lingering blindness to glory. I, for one, feel a kinship with those disciples on the Emmaus road, to whom Jesus said, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken” (Luke 24:25). God save us from foolish minds and slow hearts, which so often close our eyes to the light of his revelation.
Yet the cause does not always lie in us. If we are reading our Bibles rightly, in fact, we should expect many mornings of ordinary devotions: devotions that do not sparkle with insight or direct-to-life application, but that nevertheless do us good. Just as most meals are ordinary, but still nourish, and just as most conversations with friends are ordinary, but still deepen affection, so most devotions are ordinary, but still grow us in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Saturated with Scripture
As a new Christian in college, I carried in my pocket a packet of Scripture-memory cards from the Navigators. On one of the first cards, I found 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” I believed Paul’s words readily, having felt firsthand the profit of books like John and Romans, Philippians and James. Scarcely did I realize then, however, that Paul would have thought first of passages quite different from these — passages from which I struggled then (and still do now) to find the same kind of encouragement.
Consider, for example, some of the God-breathed, profitable Scripture Paul had in mind as he wrote 2 Timothy:
- Solomon’s discussion of wisdom in Proverbs 2:6 (2 Timothy 2:7)
- Isaiah’s prophecy of the cornerstone in Isaiah 28:16 (2 Timothy 2:19)
- The story of Korah’s rebellion in Numbers 16 (2 Timothy 2:19)
- The account of the Egyptian magicians in Exodus 7–9 (2 Timothy 3:8)
Few of us would dip into these passages for immediate edification. Few of us would offer them as our first illustrations of God-breathed, profitable Scriptures. Many of us, after stumbling through such pages of God’s word, emerge on the other side feeling unchanged, uninspired — ordinary.