I recently found myself in conversation about Bible Drill. The person I was speaking with was simply astounded that I had not been in Bible Drill as a child. I recounted for them that at a very young age my parents brought me to Bible Drill and I distinctly remember that I didn’t want to be there. So I pouted about it. To my surprise, the people I was talking to were shocked and did not think I was capable of such a lack luster spirit towards the word of the LORD. They asked me when that changed. So I told them, God moved in me over time, it was gradual and slightly painful. I thought I’d share that today with you:
First, I came to know the LORD at a very young age walked forward at 6 baptized at 8 (because my parents wanted to be sure, they are wise). I knew the Lord loved me, I knew He died on a cross for my sins and rose again to give me life, I knew that He would save me, and I knew that I had sinned. Don’t be one of those head knowledge not heart knowledge guys on me! I knew in my head and in my heart! There was not a distance there, only an ignorance that I had not yet had the opportunity to grow of. Now, this is fine. If you are where I was, you can say with confidence that you believe and are saved. I didn’t like Bible Drill. I was considered a pretty good kid in church. I was quiet during sermons, though I was not exactly listening. And I read my Bible for about 15 minutes every night before bed. I never remembered what I read and I only remember the sermons about Samson (because he was a professional wrestler and WWF was AWESOME at that time). The only other sermon I remember was when the pastor would say “Girls! Don’t paint the Barn so Red he can’t see the house!” every February. I was pretty much nominal. Perhaps you need to be encouraged by the way God moved my heart.
When I was 13, I was in school in New Orleans and received a phone call from a friend who asked for prayer for a friend who had been shot. I realized I had never shared the gospel with this friend and my failure to be intentional with those I meet may result in Hell for my friend (he didn’t die, he was just shot… still shook me up). So God chipped away a little of my sinful self and replaced it with some missionary zeal for His message. Still wasn’t crazy about things like Bible Drill, still didn’t really listen to sermons, still didn’t pay attention when I read my Bible, still thought about pretty girls more than my God. But I started to talk about Jesus more.
Then I joined World Changers in my youth group. I will be forever grateful for Ron Holman who pushed us to actually study the Word of the LORD. We were forced to memorize Scripture and to actually study it and answer difficult questions about it. At the same time, I began to take long walks with my dad. Dad prophetically began talking about the day when he would be gone and I would need to KNOW the Word. God moved me to begin to treat the Word of the LORD as something that actually led me to the throne of the LORD. As I read the Word, I began to understand that God speaks through it. Still wasn’t crazy about Bible Drills, still didn’t really listen to sermons, still thought about pretty girls more than my God, still didn’t want to wake up to go to Sunday School. But, I started to study the Bible and pay attention.
When I was 15 we moved to Towson Maryland. In Towson, our family was restored by God. We felt as though the move to Maryland was God’s way of redeeming us out of the muck and the mire. Everything seemed to be getting better. Then after being in Maryland for about a year, my dad passed away. I leaned heavily on the community of the church. I would cling to my Bible and the things dad had taught me. My mom’s strength was pivotal to my struggle to find community in the church. I watched the way she let people lift her up and learned the value of community. My friends lifted me up and were sensitive when I was not. My youth pastor, Kevin Banfield, did his best to love me and my family. My youth group and church began to become important. Still wasn’t crazy about Bible Drill like programs, still felt like I’d rather sleep in than go to Sunday school, still thought about pretty girls more than the Bible. But, I began to listen to the community of faith. I began to listen to sermons (well, at least more often than before) and small group meetings became worth something to me. I began to find community in learning together.
So, before college I was a good Christian boy who was a poster child for the church. Strong in my faith, studied the Bible, evangelized among my friends and acquaintances, and attentive to learn among others in the faith.
In college I was focused on the idea that I was going to be Dr. Thomas Elkins (dad) part two! I was going to become a doctor that would change the face of medicine in a foreign country! Well, that’s well and good… but I didn’t like Science. Just a note, not liking science has a pretty big impact on whether or not you are going to go into a scientific field, like medicine. In light of my newly found distaste for science, I began to reconsider what I should do. I figured out I only enjoyed studying my Bible… So, RELIGION IT IS!! I became a religion major at Baylor University and dedicated myself to the study of God’s Word. It was a time of great spiritual growth for me… I started teaching Bible Studies and hounding my older brother about all things ministry. In this time I began to come across big words in the Bible: Predestination, Propitiation, Atonement, Dispensation, Covenant and had a wonderful time dealing with them. Suddenly, I had a desire to know this God. I started to read my Bible and God began to show me who I am as I looked for Him. I am not a Dr. of medicine. I had to come to grips with that and the only way I could was to realize that my affections were not for Medicine; my affections were for The Word. God communicated to me that I was set apart for something else. At the same time I went through an unhealthy relationship with a girl in college. Through that relationship I learned to let go of my future. I learned that Jesus is sweeter than anything else and those who put their trust in Him will find so much more joy that those that are placing their contentment in women. Surrender it and God will take care of what He wants for you, which is so much better than what you want for yourself. So, l started to like things like Bible drill. I started to think of my God more than pretty girls. I started to love the Jesus’ Church. Still not so sure I would go to Bible Drill if they had it for my age group and there are days I struggle to engage in listening to a sermon or study with a group. But, God is still chipping away at me and making me more like who He created me to be. He is still bringing me in line with His plan and His vision, and I am loving every minute of it!
Maybe you’re a student who idealizes your pastors and as a result writes off your chances of pleasing the Lord by comparison to some professional pastor. Don’t worry, we all go through chipping and sculpting. And maybe you’re designed to be different than that pastor! Besides, most students are light years beyond where their pastors were at that age.
Maybe you’re a parent who is afraid for your child. Don’t worry, God chipped away at you… He has a way of bringing us to Himself. You remain faithful to the LORD like my mother and no matter what trauma your child goes through, God will shape them. Trust Him, surrender your wants for His, and remember… you’re still being chipped.