#GrowWise. Cover Less Ground, More Slowly

January 7, 2015

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Proverbs 7:1-4 (read the whole chapter)

My son, keep my words
    and store up my commands within you.
Keep my commands and you will live;
    guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.
Bind them on your fingers;
    write them on the tablet of your heart.
Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,”
    and to insight, “You are my relative.”



The celebrated Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, once remarked about reading Scripture, “Cover less ground more slowly.” It’s a wise word.

One of the short rhyming sayings I say to my children (when I remember it) is, “Bit by bit, day by day the Word of God will light our way.”

To “keep words,” and to “store them up” and to “guard them as the apple of one’s eye,” calls for a long, slow and steady pace. It’s far more like a close familial relationship than a crash course. Today’s text tells us to say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” which brothers everywhere will be relieved to know it’s another thing entirely to say to your sister, “You are my wisdom.” (couldn’t resist.)

Somewhere along the way in the modern Church, we began reading Scripture with the goals of speed, mastery and personal relevance. We want to read the whole bible in a year or less and we want to gain immediately applicable, relevant biblical knowledge to solve our problems and make us better people.

This isn’t how biblical wisdom works. I’m with Brother Louis (aka Thomas Merton), “Cover less ground more slowly.”  Dwell on these words. Ponder and pray through them. The goal isn’t to quickly delve into the text in order to extract something out. Rather than “extraction”, we need an “immersion” approach.

The hope is to become immersed in the Word of God to the end that the world view of Wisdom slowly begins to shape our view of the world and our vision of God. It’s not about leaving our world to go into the bible to get something to take back to our world. It’s about a fusion of the horizon of Scripture with the horizon of our own lives and communities. As we read our way into the Word, the Spirit will lead our path into the World. 

Practically speaking, choose a verse of Scripture like, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path,” and live with it for the next month or two. Store it up in your heart. As you reach to turn on a lamp early in the morning, whisper this text aloud, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Make it simple and stick with it for a long time. It’s a way of “keeping” the word and “storing it up.”

In my experience I often find my own prayers can wear me out. I get stuck in the ruts of my own words and weary of seemingly going nowhere with them. When I “keep” and “store up” the wisdom of God in my heart, it has a way of getting me unstuck. These words are substantial and dense with meaning. They are going somewhere and I am relieved of the burden of finding the way. My work is to follow after them.

I often find the simple practice of slowly storing up the wisdom of God in my heart doesn’t feel all that “spiritual” at the time, but it always leads to a more authentic  life in the power of the Holy Spirit. I find my own well intentioned intensity and earnest-ness gets in the way more often than not. Wisdom is not simplistic, but it is a simple way.

I’d love to hear how you are going about this. Remember, we’re hacking wisdom and so often the wisdom of God awaits us in one another.

I’ll see you tomorrow in Proverbs 8.


J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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