It’s that time of year once again as we find ourselves inundated with lawn care; lawn mower commercials run almost continually! I know it could be worse. It could keep raining till we start looking up those dimensions God gave Noah in Genesis! Still I suppose mowing and trimming are good ways to relax and get your mind and body focused on other things. And it does feel incredibly good to relax on my porch swing with a big glass of iced tea viewing the finished product, a well-manicured lawn. As I go about the process of readying the afore mentioned man toys for use, I think of how we ready ourselves for the things of life. Education begins earlier than ever as children are shaped, sharpened and equipped to deal with life. Higher education prepares men and women for specialized careers and of course there is pre-marriage counseling for those who are preparing for Holy matrimony. Often though, as many of you can attest, there are things we face in life that nothing has prepared us for. That is except the Bible.
No one really knows how many copies of the Bible have been printed, sold, or distributed. The American Bible Society’s attempt to calculate the number printed between 1816 and 1975 produced the figure of 2,458,000,000. A more recent survey, for the years up to 1992, put it closer to 6,000,000,000 in more than 2,000 languages and dialects. Whatever the precise figure as of 2014, the Bible is by far the bestselling book of all time. So with the pages of Holy Writ available to us in more ways today than ever before, why is there such a lack of understanding and application of its principles and truths? Don’t get me wrong, reading the Bible isn’t a quick fix or a lucky rabbits foot, but its truth, if learned and applied, can shape, change and mold a life. Years ago I read, “Three steps forward and two steps back” by Chuck Swindoll. In regard to the scripture he writes, “Think of the Scriptures as an absolutely accurate map. A map tells you how to get to a certain destination. But just looking at a map won’t automatically transport you to Arizona or England or Peru. Getting to those places means you have to make the effort…pay the cost…take the time for travel…stay at it until you arrive. In a word, persevere. So it is in the Christian life. God’s map is reliable and available. It is also clear and direct. But there is no hocus-pocus in its pages that automatically sends its reader by way of a magic carpet. Please don’t misunderstand. I love God’s Word! I am more convinced than ever in my life that its trustworthy truths are of inestimable value. But although the Bible may be a trustworthy book, it is certainly no magic potion that you rub on yourself three times a day to chase the devil away. Nor is it something you take internally with a pious promise to God, hoping that the next morning you will suddenly know and experience all its truths. There is no such “instant maturity” available on this earth. God does not offer a formula that produces fully mature Christians overnight. Christian growth comes through hard-core, gutsy perseverance (a forgotten word!) of applying what you hear and obeying it…and thereby learning how to handle those inevitable problems.” It seems that famed scientist Albert Einstein had more trouble finding his way home from work than he did finding the key to atomic power. One evening as Einstein sat deep in thought aboard the train that brought him home each night, the porter approached to collect his ticket. Einstein rummaged around in his coat, through his pockets, in his shirt, and everywhere else he could think of, growing alarmed at his inability to find the ticket. “That’s okay, Dr. Einstein,” said the porter. “I know you ride this train every day. I can collect tomorrow.” “That’s fine for you, young man,” Einstein replied, “but without my ticket I don’t know where I’m supposed to get off the train!” The Bible is a ticket as well as a map. You need its wisdom and direction to determine and confirm your final destination.
Getting the mowers and trimmers ready for another year is important if they are to work well and last long. Getting a soul ready for an eternity is a bit more important and time consuming. I can tell you that the iced tea moment I mentioned earlier that occurs from the vantage point of my porch swing reminds me of a job well done, yet it will pale in comparison to the words of my Savior, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” Well, I’ve got to go… time to get Terri’s mower filled with gas so she can get to work!
Tim Throckmorton is the former Executive Pastor of the Plymouth Heights Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace Ohio and the Portsmouth First Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace, Ohio. He is currently the Senior Pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville, Ohio.ReachReach