Maybe I am the only one who does this, but I often purchase things and then save them and wait for special occasions to use them. The problem is that I have no special occasion in mind. I buy the super cute top and think about how it will look with my favorite jeans. I look at the shirt in my closet and plan to wear it when we go out to dinner or maybe to a social gathering. After all, I would hate to wear it and mess it up, so I will save it for something. But what? I have recently had to tell myself that if I will not wear the outfit during the course of my week, then maybe I do not need it. I feel terrible admitting that I have gotten rid of clothes that I had never worn all because I purchased them and then waited for the right time to wear them. That supposed time never came. I find myself asking myself, what are you waiting for?
Clothes aren’t the only thing that I buy and then don’t use. I recently bought a book to read and it came with space to journal in. My first thought is that I don’t want to use the space because I don’t want to mess up the book. It’s not because I think that I will actually take the time to resell the book in a yard sale or anything. I just don’t want to mess it up. I have never been one to read for pleasure, I blame this on vision problems that I experienced when I was in elementary school. I have always read my Bible, but only in the last few years have I started to read books by other authors. I love to read about leadership and team building. I love to read books written by amazing pastors who help me to see things in the Bible from different perspectives. I love to read devotionals or books written by women who have walked similar paths that can help me as I live my life. Most of the books I have read have been passed along to friends or family. Maybe that is why I just can’t bring myself to write or take notes in the book. The last book I bought not only had journaling space, but tear-outs for personal reflections and help with prayer time. I struggled as I read the book, not knowing whether to use the pages or save them so I could pass the book to my daughter. The struggle was real, ya’ll. I finally told myself that I would purchase another book for my daughter so that I could feel free to make notes in my own book. What a relief. Guess what? After all that, I still made all of my notes in a separate notebook. Ok, Julie, what are you waiting for?
This morning, I was reminded of how I spent time studying when I was in college. I have always been one of those learners who is visual and auditory, but who also needs to write things out. So when I look back and forth and make notes and references, I understand and remember more. I have spent a lot of time studying through the years. When it was time to really push in and study, I would take notes, make notes and cross reference my notes. I would look for similarities and things that would spark my curiosity. I have had to study for board exams and major tests and have had to analyze facts and probabilities. I have spread papers and books out and opened the pages to things that made me have questions or gave me those “A-ha” moments. Of course, I did all of these doodling notes in notebooks or on photocopies because I never wanted to mess up my textbooks, even the ones I knew I would be keeping. Big surprise, right?
As I was reminiscing about my studying habits, I began to think about how many times I had read the Bible, but would never let myself make notes in it. I never wanted to mess it up. I mean, what if I wrote something that later I wished wasn’t there? I didn’t want to take away from its value. It has the most perfect thin pages and gold or silver shiny edges. I am not sure what changed in me, but I recently bought myself a new Bible. It wasn’t that I didn’t have one. We actually have stacks of them. We have Bibles in varying colors, sizes, and versions. But I couldn’t use those. I bought a new one. I bought a Bible to write in and take notes. I am not sure why I can’t write in the other ones, somehow it just didn’t seem right. I didn’t buy a journaling Bible or one where you color and sketch. I got a parallel Bible, with both the King James Version and the Amplified Version. I like being able to cross reference the different versions, that’s something that I am always mindful to do when I am speaking. I love to see how things are worded and why they are worded that way. I also really enjoy flipping back and forth through the different books or between the Old and New Testaments and see things mirrored or prophesies fulfilled. I love reading the Gospels as I read different portrayals of Jesus and His parables. I find nuggets of information that I maybe I have missed in the last 40+ years of reading the Bible all because I allow myself to use it as a study tool rather than just a book of stories. And it is the strangest thing, I went from someone who would have been disappointed if her pen accidentally marked the page to someone who can’t wait to make marks of some kind. Now I want to see ink on each page, knowing that I have really read it and taken it in. I want to see underlines and asterisks. I want to see notes and reminders and maybe even some stains from tears or wrinkles from times I just held it close to me. I don’t what transpired that changed me from my tendency to want to save it until just the right time or keep it from getting worn or used. I don’t remember any grand epiphany or eye-opening occasion. I think I finally just asked myself- “what are you waiting for?”
So now I ask you, “What are YOU waiting for?” If you haven’t already done so, let me encourage you to open up your Bible, grab a pen and get to work. The Bible is not just a book to read like some relaxing bedtime story. It is something to be picked apart and studied. When there is a verse to be cross referenced, look it up, find out why it is similar or what is different about it. When there are comments in the margins, read them. Investigate. Dig in. Pay attention. Take notes. Think about what you are reading. Pray about what you are reading and ask God to reveal Himself to you through His Word. As kids we learn the Bible verse that says,” Thy Word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against God.” (Psalm 119:11). How do we really hide His word in our heart if we don’t read it, understand it, or memorize it? It is time to get into the Word and press into His presence like we have never done before. Let’s quit putting it off or waiting for the right time. The time is now. Will you do this with me? What are you waiting for?