Sunday, January 25, 2009

Not Reading

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven--Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV).

Ever since I started college in 1975, God has granted me large periods of time to read, study, and write. Not long after my conversion in the summer of 1976, I sensed a call to become learned, to study as a way of life. Reading Schaeffer's The God Who is There that fall was pivotal in this discernment. The call was further crystallized by my reading of Kierkegaard's Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing about a year later. I have not always used my time wisely, but I have never deviated from a desire to develop a knowledgeable and Christian mind about the things that matter most (see Romans 12:1-2).

About thirty years later, having become a professor and an author, I am learning how not to read, not to study, and not to write. You see, life "under the sun" has gotten in the way. Sickness takes time and requires assistance. I am the primary assistant. Study time is what is left over after doctor visits, administrations of medicine, weeping, praying, and general care taking.

Most people in our overly-busy, nonstudious culture need the disciple to read, to take time away from other distracting things and be alone in a room with a good book (which would probably be a form of torture for many if extended beyond a few minutes). I often publicly exhort people unto such things in the name of God.

Now, I need the disciple not to read, study, and write--and not be bitter about not reading, not working on my magum opus (an apologetics textbook). I have need of patience and endurance, Christian virtues available through prayer, repentance, and the power of the Holy Spirit.


  1. God will grant you the desire of your heart, for that desire comes from Him indeed (Ps 37:3-6).

  2. It is likely that development of and growth in the Christian virtues do not come through reading nor studying but through washing feet, bearing crosses. I spent this past weekend cleaning my brother-in-law's home because his advanced Parkinson's does not allow him to hardly get out of bed some days, much less clean his home. Indeed, just bending down to tie his shoes causes him to pass out frequently due to poor circulation and respiratory concerns. Yet, I failed in my attitude when vacuuming and dusting because I did not want to be there. I would much rather be enjoying the winter Arizona sun reading a book or Scripture. Though not spoken it was oozing from my emotional pores! I know that I failed because he insisted on paying me. Shame on me! I must get past the smug, dualistic notion that pursuing knowledge is far superior to washing feet! "What good is it if I develop a knowledgeable Christian mind but lose my Christ-like soul?" Both/and, not either/or.

  3. We are not our own. We were bought with a price. He that gains his life will lose. He who loses his life for Christ's sake (and serving Christ in "the least of these") will gain it.

    It is so hard to learn and live these basic truths of God! Thank you for sharing your struggles, my friend.