Several weeks ago, I dealt with some digestive issues stirred by a combination of juggling too many projects, overly rich foods, and some tainted food.
Then I traveled to a conference for my day job while still having concerns about my digestive system.
Upon returning from the conference, I have been operating in “catch up” mode.
Not just at my day job, but also at home and for my writing pursuits.
What do I do to recharge my body, mind, emotions, and spirit to sustain me and overcome stress?
What does this have to do with Bible study?
Years ago, I was juggling an adjunct piano professor post with a private teaching studio and a classical performing duo. After a challenging week one fall, my husband encouraged me to take a day with him to go out to a lake near where we lived. We spent the day watching the yellow maple tree leaves fall to the ground. Mostly in silence.
While I was juggling a full-time job as an administrative assistant and full-time seminary studies, our patio furniture on our balcony got damaged during a storm. Since money was tight, we elected not to replace the furniture for about two years. The first day I got to enjoy sitting on our balcony again, I realized how much I had missed and needed a place to sit and rest in nature.
In between the last two semesters of my seminary studies, while working as an executive assistant, we took a few days at a mountain retreat with our dogs. I was so exhausted that I had tears rolling down my cheeks as my husband drove us to the destination. We did a little exploring of the small town near our cabin, but again, I mostly just sat and watched the leaves of the bamboo plants screening the cabin’s porch move in the wind.
Shortly after graduating from seminary in 2015, my husband encouraged me to go with him on a fall hammock camping trip with a group of other hammock campers he had joined. Being someone who likes to read, I brought several books with me on the trip, thinking I’d spend some of my time reading. But I never got them out of the car. Instead, I spent much of the time sitting in my chair by our campsite, watching nature. I barely interacted with the other campers in the group.
Have you picked up on the theme of what recharges me in the above examples?
Being in nature or somewhere I can at least view nature is a vital part of what I do to recharge my body, mind, emotions, and spirit.
The other vital part is that I do this either when I’m alone or with someone who understands that it is not necessarily a time for conversation.
Again, what does this have to do with Bible study?
I’ll get to this answer in a moment. First, I need to share how my practice of daily Bible devotional reading developed.
Back in 1988, my boyfriend, who later became my husband, asked me some questions about my faith I could not answer. Around the same time, my roommate, Mary, did the same thing.
I decided the best way for me to figure out how to answer their questions was to read through the Bible. I selected a one-year King James version that divided the Bible into daily readings from the Old, New, Psalms, and Proverbs. From 1989 to 1992, I continued this practice.
In 1993 and 1994, I switched to using a New International Version, The Daily Bible in Chronological Order, with devotional commentary by F. Lagard Smith.
From 1995 until 2007, I tried some other formats of either devotional reading or studies before resuming the chronological format mentioned above.
While in seminary from 2009 to 2015, I had so much reading and studying to do that I stopped this devotional reading practice. Finally, in 2017, I resumed the daily Bible reading habit with the F. Lagard Smith one mentioned above.
Daily Bible reading is not strictly Bible study. But for me, this daily immersion into scripture fuels my desire to study the Bible more deeply. This daily practice raises questions in my mind that move me to dig deeper with Bible commentaries and other study tools.
An ideal morning for me would be to make a pot of almond oolong tea, a bowl of steel-cut oats with chopped apple and a touch of honey, and a slice of Genesis 1:29 toast to enjoy on my balcony or where I can look outside while reading the day’s passage from the chronological Bible. I would also have a journal to jot down questions that stirred from the day’s passage, allowing me to do some deeper study later. Mostly I would finish the pot of tea, watch nature, and ponder my Lord’s amazing love for all He created for the rest of the morning, or perhaps take some time to go hiking somewhere.
This practice recharges me. Since I work full-time at my church, my weekdays are a significantly truncated version of the above ideal morning. Saturday mornings, though, are when I typically reserve a longer restorative time alone with the Lord in or near the garden that He created for us to enjoy. (See Genesis 1-2 and my post Pleasure from Nov 14, 2017.)
When I cannot do either the truncated version and especially my lengthier Saturday morning practice, I feel depleted and easily irritated by the simplest of things and yes, even my closest companions.
The way the Lord created me is that I need this time alone with Him and nature to recharge.
Scriptures to Contemplate:
He said to them, “Come with me privately to an isolated place and rest a while” (for many were coming and going, and there was no time to eat). (Mar 6:31 NET)
“Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psa 46:10 ESV)
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. (Psa 90:12 ESV)
How do the scriptures above align with the practice of spending time alone with God?
What do these scriptures say about the importance of rest and solitude?
How do we gain wisdom according to these verses?
What do we learn about God by spending time in nature?
What recharges your body, mind, emotions, and spiritual energy?
Do you have a daily or weekly practice that helps you recharge physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually?
Describe it in the comments below to encourage others who are looking for some new ideas to try for themselves.
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