The other day I was thinking about a Bible that has been sitting on a shelf, untouched, for about ten years.
It was once one of my most cherished positions.
It went everywhere I went.
I preached from it twice a week for years.
It went with me on overseas mission trips.
I read it all the way through twice.
Yet there it sits, untouched, for ten years.
It has been calling out to me the last few weeks, reminding me of all the time we had spent together, the treasures it taught me, the quiet times spent in fellowship.
But I still have not reached over there and picked it up.
It is not that I gave up on it, or that I no longer like the translation it is, or that I am unhappy with it in any way.
The best excuse reason that I can give is that it represents the decision that I made almost twenty years ago: to leave the ministry of the four walls of the church.
As I think back, it seems that about the time that I stopped ministering in the four walls of the church is around the time is when I put aside that Bible and started using another one, the one I still use, when that rare time comes along to reach for a printed Bible. Technology these days, you know.
It has never been any secret in my life that a few years before I stopped being a ministry in the four walls of a church that I had a pretty impactful spiritual change.
You see, I stopped caring about the Holy Text on a personal level, and started treated the Word of God as a document to be studied, analyzed, questioned and attempted to be proven.
Somewhere along the way in my ministry, things went from being personal to being technical, doctrinal.
That was the downfall of my relationship with Jesus Christ.
I eventually considered myself, even proudly so at times, among the 'unchurched Christians', a term some of you may recall from days of old.
Over the years it has become easier and easier to just fall away without guilt.
But there is that Bible sitting on the shelf right by my door. I see it every time I go in and out of my house.
Ignored for a decade, ever yearning to have a relationship with me again, to spend time with me again in fellowship - after all, Hebrews 4:12 does say the word of God is living.
In Romans 8 it says that we can be "led by the Spirit of God".
If you think about that, it seems to say that, like a goat, or cow, or donkey, the Spirit of God has the duty to pull us along, to lead us to God.
Like an unbroken horse that does not want to have a saddle and rider, we too can fight back against that rope, to resist the pull, to resist being led.
Likewise, if we surrender our will to the one leading us, we will have access to the food we need, to the protection we need, and to greener and greater pastures.
Somewhere along the way, the struggle to continue the fight has begun to get old.
Somewhere along the way guilt has just become forgotten.
In small ways, the yearnings for the quiet times, the golden treasures learned from spending time in one on one fellowship, the simple pleasure of reading the Word of God, have, over time, become battles that were fought, resisted, and lost.
Thankfully, the memories of spending a quiet bit of time with my Bible and an oil lamp are yearning once again.
It might be time to go buy a small oil lamp and pull the old cherished Bible off the bookshelf next to my front door.
I really like this blog, John. It spoke to me this morning. It has been very busy as of late and I need to stop. I need to stop, get out my oil lamp and curl up with the Bible sitting on the corner of my desk. Thank you.
This is good, John. Your transparency gives hope for change. Maybe it IS time to go back to the place we once were. To make new beginnings. I pray you see with clarity what He has for you. Thank you for writing this.