Today we’re going to look at a very practical aspect to consider when we are counting the cost of investing in Bible study. It may not seem to be terribly “spiritual” but taking care of the practical has plenty to do with the spiritual. For example, Jesus met the physical needs of the people who came to Him almost always before He addressed their spiritual needs. Jesus Himself took care of His own physical needs by taking time to eat (Matthew 14 & 15) and time to sleep (Mark 6).
When the physical is neglected, the spiritual suffers.
With that in mind, the question we want to answer today is:
Where can I make physical space to focus on study?
It may seem like a small thing, but if you have struggled to develop a consistent habit of Bible study it may be in part that you have not given yourself the tools for success. Having a dedicated space to spend time in your Bible does matter.
Ask anyone who has built any kind of physical structure and they will tell you that you don’t just pick a spot and start at it. The location needs to meet certain requirements.
Does the area flood regularly? Is the water table high here? What is the composition of the earth – sand, clay, etc.? Will I be digging into bedrock?
There are also some simple questions that can help you select a space and I encourage you to give them serious thought.
Location, location, location!
1 . Is it quiet?
If you live totally and completely alone, the question of quiet is not really an issue. But most of us probably share our home with some other living being – spouse, parents, siblings, children, pets, extended family, etc. These other individuals create distractions, and that will detract from the quality of your study because it hinders your ability to concentrate.
There is a reason why office spaces and school classrooms are not filled with extra noise and unnecessary activity (usually). And if we are going to give our full attention to our academic studies or our jobs, then we need to do the same for our sacred time with God.
How can you hear His voice when your ears and mind are bombarded with everyone else’s noise?
2 . Is it accessible?
This may not be a possibility for you, depending on your living situation, but if at all possible I would strongly recommend that you consecrate a space. Taking over a location that is already in regular use by some other person or purpose will not be a help to you.
The fact of the matter is that the harder it is to get at something, the less likely you are to do it. If you are taking over the kitchen table every morning – knowing that you are going to have to vacate so other people can use that space to have breakfast, for example – you are setting yourself up for failure. As I said, this isn’t always possible, especially if you live in a small home or possibly are a roommate or in a college dormitory type of situation. However, setting up more of a station that is always available and which won’t be interfered with by others is ideal.
Do you have an office? Is there a corner of the couch that you can claim? Do you have a tote or a backpack that would hold what you need and is more mobile?
For example, in our 900-square-foot home, I have a three-tiered rolling cart that I have used for the past year to store all of my study materials for my sacred time each morning. It ensures that everything stays in one place and is always ready at hand. I know from experience that the more I have to set up everything fresh each morning and the more hassle I put myself through, the less likely I am to make the time.
3. Will it work longterm?
The final key to consider is whether your set up is going to work long term.
It will possibly take trial and error to find the place where you can build your tower, so to speak. But it can be done! Some determination and resolve will go a long way here.
I’ve heard it said (and you probably have, too) that it takes twenty-one days to build a habit. I’ve also heard that it takes one thousand hours of repeating the same activity in order to become adept at a particular skill. I can’t say if these are true or not, but I can say that in my own life I have seen by the outcomes whether or not I have put sufficient time and focus into something.
Seasons in life do change and we all know it, but it doesn’t happen every five minutes. If you’re building your career, that process takes years to accomplish. When you begin a new business just getting started takes months. Raising small children to a point of some self-sufficiency also takes years. You will likely be in some kind of a schedule or routine in your daily life that stays pretty steady for some time, and as you get ready to make this significant investment of your time, it is imperative that you are looking for something that will work for you for those seasons.
Think of the last time you moved house or changed your doctor. That was a big change and probably a lot of work, right? But once you get into the flow of things, it doesn’t seem so bad. Now, imagine if you had to make changes like those every week or two, or every day. What a terrible way to live!
The same is true in this area of developing your habit of personal discipleship and Bible study. Find a consistently workable location for the longterm, and avoid changing that location unless it’s really necessary.
What are you waiting for?
Give these questions thought and serious consideration. Maybe it’s never crossed your mind, but I would really encourage you to change that – start today! It’s never too early or too late to make the changes that will give us the best potential for success. Learn from others and make your own mistakes, but keep working at it and I am confident that you will find what works perfectly for you and whatever season of life the Lord has you in today (and tomorrow, too!).