Monday, December 31, 2012

Final Journey Post!


It was awesome. And it was (for me anyway) really, really challenging. In fact, I feel like I’ve graduated or something. Many months before 2012 began (23 in fact) I heard of a church in another state that went through the whole Bible in a year together. I was so impressed and thought, “That would be so good for us!” But my next thought was, “But I’m not sure I can preach through the Bible in a year.” Frankly, I was flat out scared. It would be an epic challenge. I know...people don’t want to hear pastors talk about how hard it is to preach; so I’ll keep my whining to a minimum. But I’m telling you, about September, I was feeling as close to burnout as I’ve ever felt (as evidenced by the lack of posts since then!). I love to study God’s Word. Love it. I love to share its riches and wisdom and truth with others. This Journey was so different, however. The 30,000-foot perspective was a great discipline for me as a reader and a teacher for many reasons:
  • It forced me to focus on the big themes: who God is and how he works, his plan and his providence.
  • It helped me see and communicate how well the Old and New Testaments fit together.
  • It solidified in me certain doctrinal beliefs I’ve held:
    • God’s sovereignty in all matters.
    • The reason for pain and evil, and the necessity of our own suffering.
    • The wonder of God’s grace, and our unworthiness of it.
    • The meaning and supremacy of the atonement of Christ.
    • The exceeding goodness of the Good News.
    • The way all things will end, and how to better interpret apocalyptic passages.
    • The uniqueness and wonder and mystery and inerrancy of God’s Word.

The discipline of reading (and for me, studying) large swaths of the Bible each week was hugely beneficial.
  • It kept my thoughts on God and his thoughts. I’m amazed by him and love him more.
  • It served as a constant positive “pressure” to be disciplined.
  • It gave so many great opportunities to have spiritual conversations with my family and others.

But I’ve got to say, I’m so glad it’s over.
  • I’ll have much more timeMy study time was ridiculous during 2012. Probably 35 hours a week on average (I know, but I’m not as smart as others). It just took that much time to read and digest the passages, then outline them and determine main themes & applications, then see what scholars/commentaries say (to make sure I wasn’t off base), and then reduce the content to manageable size and make it understandable. I’ve gained 12 lbs. this year because I virtually stopped running (it’s the first thing to go when I get short on time) and I’m grossly out-of-shape. I’m going to be much more pleasant to my kids on the weekends and will get back to enjoying some things I didn’t do much of (fishing, hunting, hiking, going to ballgames, working in the garden, working on our cars, house, etc.). The staff at church will see me more. My small group will get their leader back. I’ll be a better pastor. I’ll be a better son, friend, husband, dad, and neighbor. (Man, I’m a whiner!)
  • You’ll get out of church on timeBelieve me, nobody was more stressed than me about going 50 (or sometimes more!) minutes. On many weeks I would be up Saturday night until 2:00am trying to cut content, and then be hoarse from Sunday afternoon until Tuesday from talking too long. It was exhausting, and I hated myself for going too long. I would promise the staff that I would be shorter...only to make myself a liar.
  • I’m looking forward to putting away the telescope and getting out the microscope.
    Bite-sizes are so much more enjoyable, and perhaps more beneficial. We’ll get back to this “proper portion” size the first week of February when we start Romans. And there’s not a better time for Romans—after grasping the whole Bible! I can't wait!
So many people have said that God used the Journey to deepen them in 2012. I’m thankful. I definitely think we did right by attempting this crazy thing! But I’m glad it’s over. Now I pray that God will move all of us forward as we become more conformed to his image.
Thanks, Lord, for how you’ve worked. Please grow us more. Please grow me more.