My muscles burned as I hiked up the steep incline toward the Las Trampas ridgeline. Orange California Poppies and yellow wildflowers dotted the grass that covered the rolling hills surrounding me. Turning to admire the view of the valley below, I put my hands on my hips and breathed deeply. The friends walking beside me caught their breath and marveled at the elevation we’d gained in such a short period of time.
The women I hiked with had spent the last seven months together delving into the Bible weekly in a group called “FaithWalk.” We’d chosen the name because we were all on a spiritual journey moving ever closer to God. Although we were at different places in our walks with Him, all of us had a desire to move forward.
As our months of formal study came to an end, we decided to take our “FaithWalk” out of the living room and onto the hiking trail. Exerting some energy, getting to higher ground and stopping to take in the view gave us a whole new perspective on life. This was true for us physically on the trail as much as it was spiritually when we’d studied Scripture together.
What we experienced is true of anyone who has been involved in a Bible study. In the past year we’ve made significant spiritual strides, whether it was in FaithWalk, Focused Living or somewhere else. Studying the truth revealed in God’s Word has deepened our wisdom and encouraged our faith. Significant connections have been made with others and we’ve grown in our prayer lives. We’ve traveled to higher ground and have discovered a new perspective.
Now we are moving into that “limbo” time of year when formal Bible studies end and summer classes are still a long way from starting. After gathering with others to study the Bible consistently, we’re now left to our own initiative to keep growing spiritually. It’s a little like hiking to the top of the ridge and then having our companions scatter in different directions. If it’s our first time up the trail, it can be especially disconcerting because we’re not sure where to turn next.
For many of us, this becomes a season when we slack off in pursuing God. Our faith that burned so brightly cools to flickering embers. Maybe we stop reading our Bibles because we don’t have a study to direct us or we forgo gathering with fellow believers because our weekly meetings have ended. Perhaps we even cease praying as apathy creeps in slowly.
This doesn’t have to be our reality, however. God never clocks out; He never has an end of the year brunch and then retreats from us until the fall. He doesn’t put His Word on a shelf next to the other books He’s studied. Likewise, we can continue pursuing Him without being tied to the parameters of a formal Bible study. Instead of getting lulled into complacency, we can persevere by keeping our focus on Jesus.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2a)
Instead of seeing the end of a formal Bible study as a time of spiritual slackening, we can view it as a time to draw nearer to God. We can dig deeper into the things that we didn’t have time to pursue during the year. It’s a chance to spend unstructured time getting to know Him personally. If you need some help figuring out how to do this, I’ve included few ideas below. Hopefully they’ll help keep you engaged with Jesus and His Word instead of wandering in the wilderness:
-If you were involved in a book study this year, chances are there was at least a lesson or two that you didn’t fully complete. Go back, re-read and finish the lessons and look at how they fit into the context of the whole study. Then do the next suggestion below.
-If you finished all your studies, go back through them and make lists highlighting the things you learned. Get a journal and make it the place where you record specific quotes, words of wisdom and verses that made an impact on you. Continue to add to it with each new study you do.
-Choose a Christian book or personal Bible study to go through daily. Better yet, invite a friend or a small group of people to join you. Find a time to meet together weekly to discuss it. This is a great way to stay accountable. Here are few places to shop for books:
CPC’s Community Book Shoppe (for those who are local)
CPC Library (for those who are local)
-Ask someone to be your prayer partner. Share requests and pray that both of you can stay engaged in God’s Word. Meet together, e-mail, text or talk on the phone regularly to stay connected.
-Continue to check in with this Life in Focus blog for spiritual encouragement. I’ll be posting throughout the summer. If you don’t follow the blog yet, click on the “follow” icon on the right side of the screen so you’ll be notified each time I post something new.
-Subscribe to an online study or devotional. Check out these options:
-Subscribe to a Christian magazine. Check out these options:
“Homelife” Magazine (Lifeway)
“Today’s Christian Woman” Magazine
-Add some variety to your time with God by listening to Christian music, writing prayers in a journal or taking prayer walks outside regularly. Branch out and be creative!
Whatever you choose will help you continue growing in your walk with Jesus. It’s okay to stop and enjoy the view, but don’t linger too long on the trail without moving forward.
“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13b-14)
What are your plans to stay connected with God and His Word once Bible study ends? How will “pressing on’ look in your daily life? Do you have books, studies or ideas to suggest? Leave a comment to inspire others!
For further inspiration, click on the link below to hear the song “Press On” by Building 429,featuring Blanca Callahan.