When I first started driving back in 1980, an intersection in Antioch, Illinois could make me quite afraid. The reason? There was a traffic light, and I often had to turn left there, which scared me to no end. Turning left at this light was much more difficult than turning right. There were so many potential complications, most specifically, nosing into the intersection while you awaited the oncoming traffic with the right of way.
Turning left made my palms sweat.
I mention this because of what I read this morning in John Piper’s book, Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God:
“…learning to drive a car is tense. You have to remember so many things at the same time, especially if the car has a manual transmission—look both ways, take foot off accelerator, apply brake, push in clutch, change gears, let out clutch, put on blinker, turn wheel, push accelerator, and so on. It all feels uncertain and scary. But if you give up, you will forfeit the joys of driving where you please and being able to carry on a conversation while doing so, which happens only when driving has become second nature.
“So it is with piano playing, and fly casting, and throwing a ball, and knitting, and learning a foreign language, and reading great books. At one point these tasks were all difficult and awkward. Learning the skill and practicing it was not fun. The joy is on the other side of the hard work…”
“So it is with reading the Bible. The greater riches are for those who will work hard to understand all that is really there. There are hundreds of connections and meanings and implications in the Bible that do not leap off the page at first reading—at least not for me. I have to slow down and start asking questions about the words and the connections. That is, thinking has to become intentional.”
When you first start doing it, reading the Bible is hard, somewhat like time travelling 2,000 years previous and being dropped into a totally different culture. Everything is weird, and a lot of it doesn’t make sense.
But it will make sense eventually, and when it does, all the left turns and sweaty palms will be worth it.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
Psalm 1:2, 3 (ESV)