For as long as I can remember, books have fascinated me. I love finding a good novel and then spending hours in a quiet, undisturbed place to finish the work. I love noticing how different authors employ words to tell a tale. When I need to get away for a while and recharge, I usually head to Barnes and Noble. Give me a few minutes in a bookstore, and you’ll soon have a list of titles I’d like to read. I love books. I also apparently love hypocrisy.
You see, though I’ve long been captivated by books, I rarely make time to read. With the arrival of Netflix came endless excuses to avoid reading. Granted, I still read fairly often; I haven’t abandoned the joy. But I noticed recently how little time I devote to reading as I perused another aisle of books.
I think our walks with the Lord can often reflect this. James calls his readers to put away sin and to take in the word of truth, going on to exhort them to “be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). The sad truth is that we can know God’s word without ever acting on his word. We can sing the songs and “Amen” the sermons and retweet the pithy statements from our favorite famous Christians, looking all the while like we are avid followers of Christ. Yet we may never share the Gospel message with someone who needs it, never truly pray for God to sanctify our hearts or the hearts of our brothers and sisters, never actually take steps forward in our “walks” with the Lord. I’ve been convicted lately in each of these areas, and I’m beginning to recognize the issue: I love the idea of following Jesus more than I love actually following Jesus. I love the thought of sharing my faith until I am presented with an opportunity for action. I love the concept of spiritual disciplines until I must discipline myself. An idea is easy to affirm, for ideas don’t necessarily require action. But my relationship with Jesus isn’t just an idea: it’s a commitment. Christ died to save me from my sin, making me a child of God and giving me a holy mission. My life is not my own. Passivity is not a valid option.
As a new semester of school quickly approaches, God is reminding me that the vacation is coming to a close. The time for work is at hand. As such, I can’t get by with merely loving ideas: I must be disciplined and intentional, always working in the strength God provides. I pray I wouldn’t waste the time God has given me. I pray for boldness and focus. And I pray that God would be glorified in my life as I seek to live out the life he’s given me. Let me no longer just observe the shelves around me; let me take up and read.