“One old man came forward and they asked him if this was the book he had been talking about and waiting for. He held the book close to his face – he’s a very old man can hardly see – he looks over the book and said, ‘Oh, now I can die. I have held God’s Word in my own hands’” (Grace Fabian translator for Wycliffe Associates commissioned in Papua, New Guinea on the response of the Akuna people when the completed New Testament was presented in the Nabak language).
I must confess that I do not cherish time in the Word of God the way that I should. Because, if I did, I would make my appointment with God every morning and not allow the snooze button to erode that precious time away like acid eats away at the skin. In a Chapel Service at Crossroads Bible College, President Dr. A. Charles Ware challenged the student body with this question, “If you didn’t have to preach, teach, or go to class, would you study the Bible?” (November 30, 2009). As I examine my life, the answer to that question is a blaring NO! Aside from study for Sunday School, speaking engagements, Baptist Training Union, or an assignment, my personal Bible study time is really non-existent unless I am going through a time of suffering.
I am ashamed of my careless attitude towards the availability in my country of the Bible whether online, in multiple translations in my home, and the Bibles I have placed in my vehicle for quick studies on the go. All of these Bibles are in my native language and in a vernacular that I can easily understand. I take God’s Word for granted and I am a missionary who is aware that there are millions of people in the world who do not have the privilege of reading Scripture in their own language. Not to mention I know that in many parts of the world, Bible ownership is a dangerous commodity that could cost one’s life which is far more than what I pay by going to the local Christian bookstore near the mall.
Psalm 63 is one of my favorite psalms and the first verse convicts me every time I read it: “O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water” (NLT). I thirst for Him and I earnestly seek Him, but the irony is I allow opportunities to be with Him to selfishly disintegrate into sincere intentions and a detailed plan that only exists in my mind. I want my motivation for study to govern my life because “the Bible is a manual for our lives not just a book we study” (Ware) like all others. I want to be like Ezra “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10). But most importantly, I want to wake up every morning thirsty with an anticipatory excitement to meet God in His Word like the old man waited for years just to hold the Word of God in his own hands in Papua, New Guinea.