Sightseeing Trips are Best
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Psalms 1:1 – 2 (NIV) Blessed is the man… [whose] delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
Eight years ago, following a one year devotional study of the Psalms with the staff of the church, I wrote a series of devotionals on the Psalms. I think I want to do that again. The challenge is to keep them short and relevant. Volumes of books have been written on the Psalms. Charles Spurgeon’s classic commentary on the Psalms entitled The Treasury of David is seven volumes long. But the plan I came up with back then will work again. Here’s why.
Years ago I discovered a secret to reading God’s Word so it actually had an impact on my life. I learned this system from observing the way I got the most enjoyment out of traveling in the car with my family. Most of the time I am pretty detailed about time schedules and trip planning. When we are going on a vacation or a trip anywhere I plan out everything, from the starting time to destinations to arrival times, focusing mainly on the route we will take to get there. My enjoyment of the trip depends on sticking to the itinerary. But one summer I remember a particular trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where I thought I was on the road I had planned to take. It turned out I was wrong, and we had gotten off onto a backwoods gravel road that took us through some wilderness territory that was a little bit scary but provided some wonderful memories. From that moment on, I developed a more adventurous spirit toward traveling. In fact, whenever we would get in the car to go anywhere, I would always plan alternate routes. Whenever I would take a road other than the main ones, my kids would say, “Dad’s on another adventure.” They still make fun of me to this day. But I love taking the back roads and just driving without a timetable or a specific destination. I love the signs along the way that say “scenic overlook.” I love to pull over and spend some time there and see what I can see. Then, when I get home, I have something on which to meditate. I have created memories that are meaningful.
That’s how I want to read God’s Word. Most people read the Bible according to the trip itinerary method. They have a predetermined number of chapters they have to read each day so they can arrive at their destination by the end of the year. Unfortunately for most of us who have used that method we discover that when we arrive at the end of the trip we don’t remember much of what we saw along the way. When we focus on the destination the trip becomes irrelevant. But when I read God’s Word according to the “sightseeing” method, I not only learn a lot more but I enjoy the time a lot more. All of a sudden I start seeing lots of “scenic overlook” signs – verses that are just inviting me to stop and take in the full vision of what God intended for me at that moment. Sometimes my sightseeing trips through God’s word are very short, and other times I get quite a distance from my starting point – but every trip creates memories that are meaningful. I have learned to meditate on what God has revealed at each stop.
Leisurely trips are a lot more fun for me than destination based trips. I know that most of us are so busy that we don’t take very many leisure trips any more, but don’t let that philosophy enter into your devotional time. Take delight in the Word of God. You don’t have to be reading it to be meditating on it day and night. It only takes one verse to challenge your mind for the rest of the day, and sometimes longer. The key is to let God take you to His scenic overlooks. That’s what I’m going to do for the next 170 devotionals. I’m going to take a daily leisure trip through one Psalm, with multiple stops in Psalm 119, and find one scenic overlook to enjoy on the trip. As you join me in this trip, your scenic overlooks may be different than mine, and when they are, write to me and tell me what God has shown you. I love having alternate routes to take and hearing stories of new sights to see along the way.
So for tomorrow, grab your water bottles and your cameras, buckle up, and open your hearts as we start out on an adventure through the Psalms. I’m already excited about what we will discover.