I just read and replied to Denver’s comment. He had just read my old “laws for Bible study.” It made me think of this essay — to encourage him and the rest of you. It’s short and not published (yet). It’s part of another manuscript I have that I’ll submit to a publisher at some point. I’ve posted one or two of these already. It’ll be a book aimed at the non-specialist.
Five minutes is a long time.
I was never taught the Bible growing up. My first exposure to the Bible that I can remember was when I was around ten years old. My best friend’s mom (she was single) would have a devotional time with her kids. If I was there, I was invited to stay. I was amazed that kids my age and younger knew the names of Bible characters and stories. About all I knew was Adam, Eve, and Jesus (at least the names).
There were times I’d sit in that little Bible study feeling like the dumbest person in the room. I guess I was. I wanted to know more, but it felt like an impossible task. Today I’m a Bible scholar with advanced degrees who studies Scripture in the original languages. I’m light years from where I started.
Trust me, it didn’t happen overnight. What I know now is the cumulative result of thousands of incremental sessions of studying Scripture and hundreds of resources related to it. It had to be that way, since I worked full time through fifteen years of graduate school, and most of my time in college before that.
One of the most helpful things I ever heard in my life was something a professor told us in Freshman Orientation at college. One of our orientation sessions was about time management. The professor looked out over the auditorium and then changed my life when she told us “five minutes is a long time.” She was right. If you’ve ever had to wait five minutes for something—a favorite show, an appointment, the bathroom (!)—you know it’s true.
I took her advice to heart. If I had five minutes to read or review something, I took it. It’s amazing how much data can pile up in your brain in small bits. I got through college and graduate school and did well. I still can’t stand to be idle. I try to always be learning about something.
I understand what it means to be pressed for time. Making time for Bible study is a legitimate challenge, especially if you’re an adult with a job (even part time), kids, and a string of responsibilities. If all you have is five minutes for careful Bible study, take it. It will add up. I’m living proof that it works.