Pastor Dan Nichols
The writer says in Proverbs 4:21-22: "My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart." This is something that I want for myself. And this is my prayer for you as a church. Much of the good that God intends to give us is right here.
But, more often than I would like to admit, in my regular bible intake I find myself not understanding what is in front of me. And if I don’t understand what I’m reading, then I certainly cannot keep it within my heart. I read a verse or a chapter and I just do not get it. Or maybe I do, but I don’t have a clue as to what it means for me, for faith, or for life. And I get discouraged. And because I get discouraged, I distance myself from the word. Because I don’t like feeling discouraged.
Though it is not the only example, often I stumble through books like Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy discouraged by frequent genealogies and ancient stories. Which is a terrible place to be discouraged if you are attempting some sort of reading plan because it is right at the beginning. And you might know what this feels like. You may have felt this discouragement before.
I want to give you three things to do when you encounter something that you struggle to understand.
First, take what you can get. Using a genealogy as an example, taking what you can get means looking at a list of names and recognizing God cared enough about this person, or this family, to put it in a book that would exist for thousands of years. Because God cares for his people. He treasures them up. And he cares for you, and decided to write your name in a book from which it would never be erased.
Second, ask for more. Asking for more means asking for eyes that can see and then grabbing a shovel and getting to work. It means digging a little bit. Humility says, “God, I want to know more. Jesus, there’s more to see here and I want to see it.”
Finally, you move along. Even though there is more to learn, more to benefit from, you can know that God has shown you what he means to show you at that moment in time. You can trust him and keep going. You can put the shovel down knowing that you dug up as much as God meant for you to dig up. You cannot store everything up in your heart all at the same time. So you have to pick and choose your battles.
Your exhortation is to let God’s grace overcome the discouragements that keep you from inclining your ear to his word. Do not let them force the word out of your sight. Be encouraged to continue planting the truths of God deep within your heart.