Reading Well Pt 3

My husband recently went through Warren Wiersbe's book "On Being a Servant of God" with the other pastors at our church. I always like when the guys are going through a book, because he shares not only his insight with me but the general insights of the group, and I get a ton from that. I've read this book before, he's read this book before, and every time we look at it God does a fresh work in us for the current season and situations in our life.

In Wiersbes book he addresses some myths about reading, and one of them is that "reading books will of itself guarantee growth and success". He goes on to say that reading is only the key that opens the door to the vault, and it is in assimilating what your read, relating it to what you already know and of course, practicing it that makes reading anything profitable.

This was never proven to be true more than when I worked in a Christian bookstore. It was exciting to hook people up with good material and hear later how God used it to minister and bring change in their relationship with Him and situations. It was also grieving to see other people come back time after time for more of the same, in a sense "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:7) They were filled with the principles found in good material, but never allowed the heart work of God that would have allowed them to walk in ways that would bear fruit.

This was, in my experience, mostly done by women, and mostly with relational issues. Be it with husbands, children or others, they came with the perception that a book on their issue would help them deal with the other persons faults in a way that would bring a solution pleasing to them. Rarely did they admit any culpability and if they did, it was excused as being a response to the other persons sin. They would go through books like I go through a bag of potato chips. And they would never change.

I often equate this idea of assimilating what I read to watering a plant. Because I move every ten minutes, I have my favorite plants in pots so I can take them with me when my landlord wakes up and decides to do something different with my house. I water these plants with a watering can, and it is easy to see how they are absorbing the water. Sometimes, if my dogs are being particularly cute, I'm watching them and not the water going on to the plant. Then I look and see that I have poured the entire contents of the can onto a single pot when I should have used only a quarter of the can. Water overflows and runs down the side, wasted. But when my dogs are not distracting me, I carefully watch the water go into the pot, slowly, allowing it to absorb into the soil. In this slow soaking, the plant receives all the benefits of the watering. Reading should be done in the same way.

Like wasted water, time in a book can be wasted when we overfill ourselves before we absorb what we have read. We don't seem to be thinking, pondering people these days. We live in every moment with an eye toward the next one, where do I have to be next, what else do I have to do today? That's why I'm a big advocate of rereading books, or chapters of books. It helps me in two ways: the returning to the material gives opportunity for a slow, continual soaking of the nourishment and also gives me a rule to gage where I am in relation to the first time I read it. Did I receive it, am I walking in it?

I decorate with books. I do this primarily because I have a bunch of books and not enough shelf space. So my cool classics like "Daily Light", my Vance Havner and Oswald Chambers books sit on end tables, the piano and the mantle, yes, even my bathroom counter. While they look neat, they are of no value unless someone picks them up and reads them, taking in and living out what is contained between the covers. Is this a myth you have been living with? Do you think because you've read something you have received all the nourishment it contained? Is there a book you've read and what you got was really more like a snack than a sumptuous repast? Perhaps it's time to revisit that book and dwell there awhile, allowing it to soak in and produce abundant fruit.

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