I am tired. Over the past year, I have found myself being stretched thin and out of energy. I tend to overwork myself and overload myself with productive tasks. However, I also find myself running on more energy than I have on my own. The last few months have awakened my need for hiding and resting. I do not mean that I am hiding from responsibility or people. Instead, I am trying to discipline myself to hide in Scripture. I realize I cannot do this on my own and it does not come naturally for me to rely on someone else. I have set out to discipline myself in three things: hiding in Scripture, being replenished in Scripture, and being sent by Scripture.
Hiding in Scripture
This realization began when I was preparing to preach in the absence of my pastor. Simultaneously, I began reading The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Borroughs. I did not make it to the end of the first chapter before I felt confronted by Scripture. The words of Paul struck me as if I'd never heard the book of Philippians. I began to study being content in Jesus and finding joy in the cross. Through this time, I realized the only way I can have my emotions in check is to hide in Scripture. Amidst turmoil and hate around us and amidst learning how to be a man of God, I found rest. The irony of Scripture is that we feel safe and find rest at the cross.
Though this is not groundbreaking practical theology, it is often neglected, at least in my life. I began seeking Scripture to find my contentment during times of loneliness and dissatisfaction. I began finding joy in the work of Christ that propelled me into ministry and discipleship. I would have times I was angry at what was happening in the world and I found solace in the death of Jesus. I would feel like I had nothing left to give and I found the sovereignty of God even in my weakness. I felt like I wasn’t good enough and I began following Paul (Phil. 3:12-4:1). I began hiding in Scripture by setting aside time that I could just let Scripture break me. I wanted my pride, selfishness, and energy to be reminded that it was not enough. I wanted to be at the foot of the cross and look to the heavens.
Replenish in Scripture
During the periods of hiding, I began to feel re-energized. I felt an excitement for the task of ministry again. I began to see the work the Lord was doing that I was previously overlooking because I was stuck on my abilities. A big lesson I have learned in my short time in ministry so far is simple: the Lord is going to do things you didn’t expect and you couldn’t create yourself. Hiding in Scripture allowed me to not only rest in the power of God, but also allowed me to reflect on the work of God. Paul tells us in Philippians that when we look to the cross then we will live (Phil. 2:1-11). We cannot do ministry without first looking to the cross to give us the only fuel that will keep us going. Frustrations are going to come. Heartache will hit hard. The world will hate you. Your own body will give out. The work of Jesus will be forever!
I began to realize that without the cross, the book of Philippians is no longer there, let alone all the rest of Scripture. The meat of Philippians is joy in life through the cross where Christian contentment is found. If you take away the cross, the message of Philippians is that life is hopeless and no fun, quit now. The joy of Jesus is that Christian contentment is not simply a spiritual high during the good seasons of life. Rather, Christian contentment is the spiritual anchor in every season of life. We replenish our energy with Jesus because as children of God, we are found in Jesus.
Sent by Scripture
Scripture never tells us to hide in Scripture and stay hidden. Scripture also does not replenish us for the work of the Gospel to not then go and do the work. Once we have hidden and heeded the Words of God, we will not be able to hold ourselves back from going. I've begun to recognize the days and weeks that I have hidden in Scripture and the ones when I've failed to do so. The weeks in which I discipline myself to hide in Scripture long enough to be fueled by Scripture are the weeks when I have the most joy. However, these weeks were not the most joyous because of good things happening, far be it!
Some of these weeks were the hardest on a personal level. I found myself in situations that my heart hurt. but David’s words spoke saying, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (Psalm 42:5). I found myself content and joyful when life was confusing and hurting. I do well covering my inner emotions, but that is not biblical. I needed to confront myself to learn to be content in whatever situation may come my way (Phil. 4:11). This had to start with a thirsting and panting for the streams of God’s Word (Psalm 42:1-2). Next, it had to move to setting my mind on things from above (Phil. 4:8-9).
I concluded that realizing what God could do was not enough. I had to rest in what God could do and would do through me and others. The Great Commission doesn’t just tell us what we will do. It also tells us what Jesus has already done. Scripture is not about you; it is about Jesus. Scripture is, however, for you through the work of Jesus. Life will not be joyful and you will not find contentment if you do not learn to hide in Scripture, constantly replenish in Scripture, and live out the commands of Scripture.