God's Word: Our Life and Joy
Words by Hunter Beless // Images by Izzie Rae
This is the second blog post in our series "Abide: Grace-Fueled Practices of Spiritual Discipline." Read the introductory post here.
Exhausted from 24-hour workdays and less-than-optimal sleep, I found myself coasting on past seasons of growth in the beautifully messy season of motherhood instead of seeking God. My sweet little loves weren’t allowing time to practice spiritual disciplines the way I wanted to, so I gave up—with the exception of the desperate, “Lord, let my babies sleep!” kind of prayer—because mamas secretly believe that sleep will fix all things, right? A seemingly endless string of ordinary days filled with play dates, meal prep, and grocery shopping left me lifeless and tired. It was at the end of that rope that I received some loving advice from a mentor. She said, “As mamas, we need One Book. What does your time in the Word look like?”
“He (Moses) said to them, 'Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.’” (Deut. 32:46–47, emphasis mine)
The Word of God cannot be reduced to an Instagram post, t-shirt, or coffee mug: it is our very life. Our physical and spiritual existence came into being by God’s Word, and we continue to be upheld by it today (Ps. 33:6 ; Heb. 1:3, 11:3; 1 Peter 1:23). When we’re immersed in it, we increasingly think, act, and become more and more like Jesus (Rom. 12:2; Heb. 10:7; Eph. 4:22–24).
We know that, and yet why do we struggle to press into the daily habits of Bible study, Scripture memory, and meditation when it doesn’t feel organic and easy? Many times I feel like I just don’t have the brain space, but when I choose to engage with the Word despite how I feel, duty quickly becomes delight. The reality is, no matter how physically tired we might be, God’s Word offers the kind of rest no extended nap time ever could. It will not return void (Is. 55:11).
I’ll never forget the time my husband’s truck crept to a halt on the middle of Highway 195 and I looked down to see that the gas tank was on E. Thankfully, my iPhone had just enough charge to call AAA, but what if it hadn’t? What if I didn’t have access to my list of contacts in that moment? What if I had to actually memorize a phone number other than my own?!
Like having an emergency number on hand, memorizing Scripture is practical—you have it when you need it. When I find myself failing to remember who God is, his Word reminds me of his character. In moments of weakness, it strengthens my faith because, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). When temptations arise, the Word hidden in my heart enables me to recall God’s commands and fight the enemy like Jesus did. Scripture memory enhances my prayer life as I pray God’s Word back to him. I’m able to speak life into others from a biblical perspective, even if I don’t have my Bible on hand. And best of all, I can meditate on it anywhere (Josh. 1:8), even when I don’t have immediate access to my Bible.
David Mathis says, “Meditation that is truly Christian is guided by the gospel, shaped by the Scriptures, reliant upon the Holy Spirit, and exercised in faith.” Most of my friends think meditation happens while practicing yoga and diffusing essential oils. I used to believe meditation happened in the still, quiet hours of the morning, but as a mama to two littles under the age of three, 5:30 a.m. isn’t always quiet.
The reality is, meditation happens when we’re thinking deeply about the realities revealed in the Bible in order to understand and act in light of those truths. This should be deeply encouraging to the college students living in dormitories, to mamas of small children, or to anyone not living in a monastery, basically. Meditation, fueled by Bible study and Scripture memory, can happen anywhere! Ask God to help you creatively overcome the challenges that inhibit you from regularly mulling over truth.
Despite not always being able to study, memorize, or meditate exactly the way I want to, I’ve learned to improvise and prioritize these specific disciplines because God’s Word is my foundation for life. This realization opened my eyes to pockets of opportunity for Scripture reading, memorization, and meditation throughout my day, like when I’m nursing my littlest, washing dishes, working out, or folding laundry. This looks both similar to and different than it has in other seasons, which is challenging for a Type-A planner like myself. Instead of sitting down with my Bible for an hour, I have Bibles strewn about the house, all of them open to the passage I'm memorizing. In my most desperate times I've resorted to marching around the house reading Scripture aloud with my baby strapped to my chest while my toddler runs. I'm still finding my groove, but I'm using whatever small pockets of time I can to memorize, meditate, and study God's Word. If you're a mom with littles, the Word will bring rest in a way no screen time, book, or hobby ever could. If you're in college or working and you feel like you can't get ahead, the Word will nourish and energize you. Our seasons and methods will differ, but one thing remains the same: we must actively and regularly engage with the Word of God, because through it he offers us life and joy.
-Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin
-ESV Study Bible
-5 Steps to Meditating on your Bible by Kristin Wetherell (The Gospel Coalition)
-Living By the Book, by Howard G.G. Hendricks & William D.D. Hendricks
-bible.is (an audible version of the text)