This is a story with a moral to it. The story involves my 18-month old daughter and a package of gum. It goes something like this:
Abby loves to explore. She also loves to climb and it seems that these two traits often go hand-in-hand, for she has discovered that the higher she climbs the more there is to explore. Not too long ago she found that if she drags chairs across the house she can use them as gateways to ever great discoveries. Just the other day I surreptitiously watched as she dragged a chair across the dining room and parked it beside our side-table. She looked around to see if anyone was watching and, not seeing anyone, pulled herself onto the chair. I prefer to think she did not see me since the alternative is that she knows that I am a pushover when it comes to her naughtiness. She began a quick survey of the table and though there was not much to see, her eyes lit up when she spied a package of gum. It was one of those new-fangled packs of Juicy Fruit where each piece of gum is inside its own little plastic bubble and to get it out you need to pop it through a piece of foil. You know the ones I mean….
She grabbed the package of gum in her little hands and began to study it, not know what it was, but suspecting she had found a treasure. At first she just looked at the package trying to determine what it was and what possible function it had. She turned it over and looked at the back and as she did so, she squeezed it slightly. That, of course, made the foil crackle a little, so for a few moments she just stood in place squeezing the gum and delighting in the various sounds it made. She came to realize that there had to be more to this object than just fun noises, so she continued to examine it. Still curious, she raised it to her face and took a tentative bite of the package – it was completely unsatisfying, but she did notice a wonderful smell. She now knew that there was food in that package! She knew there was more to it than she was experiencing.
It did not take her long to figure out that the cardboard shell could be pulled away, leaving the tasty sweets visible, separated from her by just a tiny, thin piece of foil. She bent, pulled and twisted on the package with little success. I could see her little face begin to show determination as she decided she was going to get into that package at all costs. Finally, with a push and a twist a little rectangle of gum popped out of the package and fell to the table with a “click!” She dropped the package to the table and grabbed the treasure with her pudgy little hands. Her face broke into a wide grin as she popped that gum into her mouth and enjoyed the treasure she had worked to hard to obtain.
I suppose I should have gotten her in trouble for defying the rules by climbing up on chairs (little good can come from an 18-month old child climbing on chairs) but I had simply enjoyed watching her too much to ruin her fun. Of course I did stop her from devouring the rest of the package of gum…
My daughter could have overlooked the treasure altogether, or having seen the package she could have taken a bite of the cardboard, determined there was nothing more to experience and just gone her way. But she knew there was more than what a cursory glance could reveal. Her determination earned her a reward.
As I thought about what she had done, I realized the parallel between her childish curiosity and the way we are to examine the Bible. Just as Abby had focused all her attention on this one task, determined to get the treasure she knew the package contained, so I need to approach the Bible determined to extract God’s treasures from it. As Abby broke into a smile when she achieved her goal, so I should feel content and blessed when I learn more from the One who watches over me. A careful, methodical approach to God’s Word is crucial to discovering His treasures.
Beginning next week I am going to begin an inductive study of a book of the Bible on this site. I have used the inductive approach in the past and have found it to be a wonderful way of mining the depths of God’s Word. It involves care, time and a methodical approach. It allows God to speak from His Word and prevents me from trying to read my beliefs into it. I intend to study James since it contains a wonderful mixture of both basic and advanced doctrine, of things that are easy and things that are difficult to understand. I am inviting anyone who reads this to join in the journey to see if together we can master this approach to studying the Bible.