An Emergency Is No Tyme to Read the Directions

“Help me!” 

It took me a moment to figure out where the sound was coming from. But I could see the Humvee coming into the Battalion Command’s parking lot slow and at an odd angle, more like the sideways crab walk of someone fatally wounded than the purposeful arc of a car looking for a parking space.

“Help!” The passenger called out again and I thought from the way he was leaning out of the Humvee, that he was trying to get away from something in the vehicle. Then he said the words that made everything snap into focus, “The driver’s dead and I can’t stop the Humvee.”

The Humvee was  heading starboard and would soon be running into vehicle lined up in the parking spaces. I ran up, opened the driver’s door, reached across the driver to straighten the wheel and push on the brake. The immediate crisis was averted.

Then the Captain told me that his driver had been having heart problems and now he was dead. I laid back the driver’s seat and checked for a pulse. Finding none, I ran close enough to the training center’s front door to get someone to call 911. Then I pulled the driver out on the hard packed grass along the parking lot, and methodically went through the steps I had been taught in S.E.R.E training as I initiated CPR.

My Lieutenant, who I was there to pick up, and my First Sergeant with whom he had gotten a ride, soon came out of their meeting and my Lieutenant, who had both more training and experience, just slid into the chest compressions while I took over the breathing part alone. By the tyme the ambulance arrived some minutes later, we had a pulse and CPR was stopped.

This was more than a decade ago and I don’t think about the incident except when CPR is mentioned. But it came to me while considering the Bible, because I considered how my reactions that night had already been honed through training.

There is a way we Christians can do a spiritual version of this as well. What I highly recommend is not a passing interest of the Bible alongside other books, but a real, intentional plan for marinating yourself in God’s Word. There are two other dominant patterns of reading the Bible. One is to keep it out somewhere at the house and read the cover from tyme to tyme noticing the beautifully etched gold foil letters reading “Holy Bible.” That is the reading that many of the millions of Bibles in homes get.

The other pattern is to wait until something goes wrong in your life and then go to the Bible searching for answers. The Bible is pretty poor at this as it was not designed as a troubleshooting guide to be turned to when things go wrong. Sure there are Scriptures that will be very comforting or even challenging when you find yourself in a mess, but that’s not the best way to encounter them.

The best way to encounter the scriptures is by continually reading your way through them in short doses, preferably daily, but at least a few tymes a week. Also gather for worship with other Christians to hear the Bible both read and preached. Then you get the Bible in your bones.  And don’t start at Genesis with a plan to read the Bible straight through to the end. That usually doesn’t work much farther than Leviticus, the third book of the Bible.

Know this, the Bible is a library of 66 books and you don’t have to read from the first to the 66th and the way millions of Christians who have gone before you have found works best is through a pattern with short readings from the Old Testament combined with even shorter readings from the New Testament read every day. It’s a much easier and therefore better pattern.

When bad tymes come in your life you’ll want to have already read and reflected on scripture. And this is true whether you are facing the end of your life or a trying tyme at school or work or home. For when it comes to the Last Days or those tough tymes in your life, it’s no tyme to blow the dust off the gold foil on your Bible.

And now we circle back to the Battalion Command’s parking lot. That cool fall evening in Ft Leonard Wood, Missouri I had no idea that I would almost be run into by a soldier in need of CPR. And had I never taken a course that would not have been the tyme to start studying. The last thing he needed was someone standing there reading a book on CPR and trying to figure out how to get started.

What he needed was someone who had already well familiar with the Red Cross guide to CPR, who had practiced it enough to be confident to begin. There was no one else in the lot and no one else coming for a critical few minutes. If I had started reading up on CPR just then, he would have died as my Lieutenant or someone else who knew the drill would have been too late.

It is the same with your spiritual life. Do not wait until your spiritual heart rate and breathing flat line to pick up the instruction manual. Instead, pick it up now. Don’t get overly ambitious. Start slow, follow a pattern that you can keep up. Don’t worry about whether or not you are “getting it” or whether or not “it’s working.” Just trust the process. Billions of Christians have been marinated over tyme in this same sauce and they came out quite tasty.

So just trust that over tyme God will be revealed to you in ever new and every amazing ways. That will only come if you stick with reading even when it makes no sense or seems to be pointless. But the discipline matters. For you don’t want just a passing glance at the cover of a Bible. That won’t help when you need the wisdom from Scripture. Instead try a more serious and sustained encounter with God’s Word and you will find it little by little transforming your life for the better.

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