Get In The Word
At twenty years old, strung out on cocaine, I met Jesus Christ. Almost immediately, God gave me supernatural grace to read His Scriptures—and I was starving for it. I read Genesis through to Revelation fifteen times in a year. It was an unusual grace to get in the Word, and when I needed a more sustainable plan, I followed the advice of a mentor to focus primarily on one book every year. This has taken me through Job, Psalms, Song of Songs, Joel, Luke, John, Ephesians, 1 John, and Revelation in deep and deliberate focus. Something in me urgently cried Ephesians 1:17: “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.”
In my thirteen years as a Christian, I have continuously lived and worked amidst a people who love the Word of God. I am grateful for this community momentum and focus, but community can never substitute the vibrant life in God available only in solitude. This year, I will be delving into the book of Jude. While small in stature, Jude is no lightweight. The depths of his letter span salvation, the Father heart of God, an eschatological epilogue, and songs erupting from revelation of the majesty of God. I’m looking forward to a year with this text, and am grateful as I look back on years I invested in going deep a book at a time. I want to encourage you: set vision to read God’s Word in 2018. Here are three reasons why: you need vision, your joy hinges on it, and your calling depends on it.
LIFE WITHOUT VISION IS DEADLY
Many of us spend our lives confessing the name of Jesus while navigating our time and lives without vision. “Man cannot live without bread alone,” and we certainly can’t rely on forty-five minute sermons from someone else to bring us into full maturity. Our Father did not give us the Scriptures so we would become better people. He gave us His Word so we can get to know Him, and in so doing, become more like Him. The “Word became flesh,” and “is living and active.” It is by seeing Jesus clearly that we can see, and live, clearly. As the Proverbial scripture goes, “where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint.”
YOUR JOY DEPENDS UPON IT
The great pioneer to China, James Hudson Taylor, once wrote: “The real secret of an unsatisfied life lies too often in an unsurrendered will to the Word of God.” Taylor left thriving Western shores full of amenities and gave himself headlong into pioneering ministry among the Chinese. His work for the Gospel was not met without hostility. He lived primitively, worked tirelessly, and enjoyed little tangible fruit for his efforts. Yet simplicity and seeming futility did not sway Taylor: in fact, he equated satisfaction to surrendering his will to the written will and Word of God. Two points stand out here: (1) God designed the human heart to find satisfaction in Him through His Word, and (2) God gave us His Word not only for us to know Him, but for the human heart to delight in His will. Affection-based obedience is essential for heart-satisfaction. Set a course in 2018 toward discovering the will of God; in this you will discover your heart's design for joy.
One of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes is this: “It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered us. Like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased.” How true! The human heart foolishly lavishes energy upon temporal satisfaction, while the Word of God offers us true satisfaction, and true joy. Don't settle, and don't sit in the mud. Set a high vision this year to satisfy your soul upon the Word of God.
YOUR CALLING DEPENDS UPON IT
William Carey, often regarded as the father of modern missions, said of his calling: “When I left England, my hope of India's conversion was very strong; but amongst so many obstacles, it would die, unless upheld by God. Well, I have God, and His Word is true. Though the superstitions of the heathen were a thousand times stronger than they are, and the example of the Europeans a thousand times worse; though I were deserted by all and persecuted by all, yet my faith, fixed on the sure Word, would rise above all obstructions and overcome every trial. God's cause will triumph.”
To know the will of God for a life, one must acquaint themselves with the Word of God. Many precious Christian souls are going through their days without diligent time and energy invested in the Scriptures and are therefore living without revelatory or prophetic understanding for their lives. However, in opening God’s Word and humbly asking His Spirit for understanding, one will soon discover the will of God—that is, before any of our missional or marketplace ventures, that we ourselves be satisfied in all and who He is. Our blood-bought and God-wrought callings in life require reading His Word. The most effective step forward is to prioritize a life in the Word of Jesus this year—especially if you woke up on January 1st without clarity for 2018.
DON’T BE INTIMIDATED
The Lord can do much with little. Bring your loaves and fish of hours and minutes to His eternity and see what He’ll work within you. Start somewhere. Start with fifteen minutes if you must—I’m not encouraging you to check a scheduled activity off your to-do list every day. I’m encouraging you to saturate your life in the Word of the LORD simply to get to know Him better and I am confident that in getting to know your Maker, you vision will be clearer, your joy will be fuller, and your work will be fruitful. Make 2018 a year you went deep in eternity.
Britton Gail and his family live in a Muslim-majority country, laboring to give a witness of Jesus to the unreached and unengaged. He is a contributing writer to FAI Publishing, endeavoring to encourage those with access to the Gospel to share their treasure with those who don’t. He can be reached at Britton@faimission.org.
 Matthew 4:4
 John 1:14; Hebrews 4:12
 Proverbs 29:18
 Taylor, James Hudson. Union and Communion, Or, Thoughts on the Song of Solomon. Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 2012. Kindle Ed. Loc. 148.
 Lewis, C. S. The Weight of Glory. New York, NY: HarperOne/HarperCollins REV Ed, 2001. Print. p. 1.
 Carey, William, Lain Murray. “The Puritan Hope.” Banner of Truth: Edinburgh, Scotland, 1971. Print. p. 140.