by Alexa Hess
In my previous post, I described how my husband and I recently picked up gardening as a hobby. I also mentioned how discouraging it was to watch our plants struggle to grow. As more time progressed, our gardening situation has grown even more discouraging as we have begun to see some of our plants wither. It turns out that we needed to water our plants more frequently than we realized. For some of them, the occasional Seattle rain wasn’t enough. They needed daily watering to survive. Learning this about our plants led me to think about the necessity of God’s Word. As followers of Christ, we need God’s Word daily to flourish. If not, we will grow spiritually dry, just like a withering plant.
How are you feeling right now? Worn out? Irritated? Anxious? While our circumstances can surely wear down our physical health, our lack of Scripture reading can impact both our physical and spiritual health. If you are dehydrated, your body sends you signals that you are in desperate need of water. You may have a headache, feel dizzy, or have a dry mouth. Sometimes we can ignore these signs and continue to go about our lives.
Most people are living dehydrated without even knowing. In fact, 17% – 28% of older Americans are dehydrated. Settling for low amounts of water has become normal to their way of life. Yet, inside they are crying out for water. In the same way, believers can settle for living spiritually dry lives. We ignore the warning signs of irritation or weariness and simply push down and press on.
Removing God’s Word from our daily life is like removing water from our bodies. As believers, we need God’s Word to survive and thrive. The psalmist in Psalm 119 recognized the necessity of God’s Word. His current circumstances caused him to pray to God, “My life is down in the dust; give me life through your word” (Psalms 119:25) and “I am weary from grief; strengthen me through your word” (Psalms 119:28). He even writes how he opens up his mouth and pants in longing for God’s Word (Psalm 119:131).
God has graciously given us His Word as the means to grow in our faith. We need God’s Word to learn more about Him and learn how to live the Christian life. Scripture strengthens our walk with the Lord and gives us perseverance through times of hardship. The daily nourishment of Scripture is necessary for every believer. Like a flower without water, we keep ourselves from flourishing when we choose to settle for little to no time in God’s Word.
One of the reasons we can struggle in daily Scripture intake is because we choose substitutions in place of God’s Word. Just think about how easy it is to grab a coffee as a substitute for water. We choose coffee because we desire quick energy and motivation. But soon, the caffeine fades, and we find ourselves crashing. The thing we have chosen to satisfy us has only left us tired and dried out. If I poured coffee over my flowers, would they have the nutrients to grow? Definitely not. Yet, we too reach for things such as relationships, social media, and material possessions and believe we have what we need to grow and thrive.
There is a difference between a supplement and a substitution. Things such as devotionals, articles, and books are all wonderful resources to help us grow in our faith, but they are not the ultimate source. Sometimes it is easy for us to choose things outside of God’s Word as a substitute when they are only meant to be a supplement. These things are meant to lead us to God’s Word, not replace God’s Word.
There is no substitute for the Word of God. Nothing else can truly saturate and satisfy our souls. What are you choosing right now in place of God’s Word? What are you going to for satisfaction and renewal apart from Scripture? Just like how habitual it is to reach for substitutes for water, let us be mindful of what we reach for as substitutes for Scripture. Once we have recognized these habits, let us seek to replace those habits with the reading of God’s Word. Daily Scripture reading takes discipline, but it yields lasting spiritual vitality.
One of the best ways to have the continual nourishment of God’s Word is to come back to Scripture throughout our day. We may not have enough margin to spend an extended amount of time soaking in God’s Word, but we can still drink deep throughout our day.
Look for small windows of opportunity in your day to take up God’s Word. Maybe this looks like 15 minutes of Scripture reading while your child is taking a nap. Or maybe this looks like stopping and reading over a verse you have posted on your fridge. You can even use your drive to and from work to listen to an audio recording of the Bible. What matters is intentionally using the time you are given.
If you find yourself dry and thirsty today, go drink deeply of God’s Word. And then come back to Scripture again and again. As followers of Christ, let us not settle for living spiritually dehydrated. Let us not fool ourselves into thinking we can live the Christian life apart from God’s Word. May we be saturated in the Word of God—daily nourished to flourish in our faith.