I spent my fourth through twelfth grade years participating in Bible Drill. Bible Drill is a program teaches kids to know the Bible in a competitive format. We memorized numerous verses, both individually and as tied to key themes in Scripture, and we practiced looking up the passages in under ten seconds (or eight seconds in high school). The program was great, and not just because it got us familiar with Shakespearean-era English before we took college literature classes. The real impact of Bible Drill was seen much later as I began to notice how much it prepared me for life with the Lord. To this day, verses from Bible Drill stick with me, one of which has specifically been challenging me lately. As the KJV has it, Paul writes,
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15
This verse challenges me in two specific ways. First, as a student, I can easily slip into survival mode, meaning that my goal can become to simply submit adequate work, not to truly do my best. To say it another way, I can begin to work for a grade more than for the approval of the Lord. This doesn’t mean that I’m trying to earn brownie points with God, nor that I’m trying to earn salvation by my good deeds (an impossible task, as Paul clearly states). What it does mean is that I stop studying as if I’m studying for the Lord. I stop working for the glory of God. Paul’s words directly challenge that laziness.
That brings me to the second challenge, that of discipline. As I look at my life, I see many areas that need improvement. I realize that I don’t gravitate toward spiritual maturity, so I must take intentional steps toward growth by implementing spiritual disciplines into my life. I know, for instance, that I need to share my faith and fast more than I do, I know I need to get back to memorizing Scripture, and I know that my prayer and Bible study could use some serious work. Yet knowing these truths is not enough (as an upcoming poem will hopefully express). Though I know what I need to do, I struggle to actually do the work. This verse reminds me, however, that I don’t work for the sake of work alone. Rather, I work as unto the Lord, as Paul says in Colossians 3:23-24. This means that there is a motivation for the work, namely, the glory of God. Discipline, then, is for my good and for God’s glory.
I thank the Lord that my parents kept me in Bible Drill when I was younger. God used that program in massive ways, giving me a foundation upon which I continue to grow to this day. My prayer now, years removed from my last drill, is that I will continue to apply what I learned then. I pray that we would each study to show ourselves approved unto God, rightly dividing the word of truth, unashamed of the work we do for our Father. And I pray that we would take spiritual disciplines seriously, that we would walk daily to know God better through a diligent life. The road will not be easy, but the reward is worth the sacrifice. Let us run, then, with endurance.