This title echoes my friend’s question: “Why must life be hard?” “Has it always been like this or did we, as a human race, stumbled ourselves away?”
I stayed in Johor Bahru for a week during Chinese New Year. Amidst the monotony of being away from work, my curiosity was roused about Gamaliel whom Paul mentioned in Acts 22:3, crediting him to be his teacher. I looked deeper into Gamaliel and was drawn to the Jewish tradition of training their children on their beliefs.
To my horror, I learnt that a TYPICAL Jewish child during the times of The New Testament would have memorized The Torah by the age of 10. This makes me wonder about 2 things:
First, if the typical Jew was subjected to this rigor, then what about the top Pharisees like Paul who trained under the renowned teachers such as Gamaliel? These dudes know their stuff and we do see Paul quoting the word from memory, possibly both in Hebrew and in Greek. Needless to say, these people didn’t have mobile apps then; they didn’t even have the compiled Bible. When these people talked and quoted scripture, they were coldly pulling them out from memory.
Besides admiring the cognitive prowess, the second question that popped in me was: why aren’t we doing this today? Can we even do this today? I’ve personally memorized the order of books in the Bible. I know that’s doable but to commit The Torah to memory word for word? That is just beyond me. This does give me a glimpse of the lifestyle of them Jewish kids during Jesus’ time. I imagine them waking up for prayer and breakfast then going straight to their studies of sacred scriptures (no citations, purely from my imagination). Unhindered by peripheral errands and responsibilities, undistracted by any online game or social media application, these kids grew up spending time with God and Scripture.
What about us today? In this week alone, I spent considerable time in government websites fixing immigration issues, house and loan issues, salary and tax issues, personnel and administration issues. I’m also currently trapped in fixed schedules for my classes and my clinical hours when in the end I just wanted to be with my girls at home and to genuinely read about The Lord Jesus Christ (or write books about Him).
Why can’t we just live out the life that The Lord has designed for us?
Don’t think that this frustration only happens to you, it is universal:
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you,
as though some strange thing happened unto you:
1 Peter 4:12
Don’t mistake this as a coincidence either, this is by design. I even have a name for it, I call it being Screwtaped (Referenced to The Screwtape Letters).
We have to be aware and vigilant as it is the world’s job to keep us distracted from The Lord Jesus Christ.
It is the world’s job to keep us running lost in vain unending circles.
It is the world’s job to stumble us so that it can steal away God’s good plan for us and possibly even our salvation. And this Screwtaped world is doing such an effective job that Christians today can barely name the books in The Bible when our 10-year old ancient Jewish counter parts can memorize entire books!
Be mindful of this and stop trusting in the world to simply hand you a free time with God; believe me, it WILL find a way to steer you away from truth. Be purposeful and deliberate in fighting for your deserved time with The Lord Jesus Christ. I personally get my time during my commute back and forth from work. I know people who drive listen to sermons and podcasts. Some pastors I know literally follow the 5am habit and spend at least an hour of the morning to this sacred time.
We cannot expect the world to hand us this time for The Lord. It would be naïve for us to think that the world is for us and for our salvation. We have to be deliberate and active in taking what is ours and this is our time with our Lord and maker, Jesus Christ.
What I’m asking of you right now is not for you to just break out of this rat-race which we are in. I would that you personally ask yourself the question of “Why am I so busy?” And if, “if I truly believe that there is a God and I truly believe that He is The Lord Jesus Christ, then why am I not spending time with Him?”
I bid you a blessed journey in pondering on these questions. Be blessed in Jesus’ name!