How to “Go Deep” in the Bible and Why You’re Doing It Wrong

Imagine you just learned that there’s treasure buried somewhere in your backyard. While the treasure is in a very small container, its so valuable that getting your hands on it would change your life forever. How would you go about finding it?

CC Image Courtesy of Dee West on Flickr

CC Image Courtesy of Dee West on Flickr

For those of you about to scroll to the comments and tell me all about your fancy metal detector or ground sonar, I should tell you that I buried it in a container that makes it invisible to all such technology.

I can do that because I’m the blogger….and he who blogeth, also maketh the rules.

Now that we’ve eliminated the shortcuts; what’s your strategy? With shovel in hand, would you pick a random spot in a corner of your yard and dig a tiny hole straight down in hopes that you picked the precise location?

My childhood tells me that approach may have some challenges.

Growing up on a farm in the hills of Northern Arkansas, I helped dig plenty of rock-laden post holes. If Dad hadn’t been there, I would have stopped after the first one. The reward simply stopped being worth the work required. (In case you’re wondering, there’s little reward for a teenager in a well dug post hole.)

Even if you do make it through the tough layers, the chances of finding the treasure at the bottom of the hole are pretty slim. Sure you might find a few trinkets worth holding onto like an arrowhead or maybe a silver dollar lost years ago. But likely not the big prize you’re after.

I approached the Bible that way for most of my life. I dug narrow holes. I’d look for the first verse that I felt spoke to my situation and make it my mantra for the day. If the digging got difficult, I’d quit.

To be perfectly honest, it was a lazy approach to seeking God. I didn’t want to spend time reading God’s story. I just wanted a quote that made me feel good.

No wonder I wasn’t growing in my faith.

That approach sounds absurd when considered for finding the buried treasure too. If you know that kind of gold is waiting in your backyard, I’m betting you’re bringing in the heavy equipment and digging up the whole thing one layer at a time.

This strategy has a couple of obvious advantages but the bigger, less apparent advantage is gaining familiarity.

As you peel back the layers of your yard, you begin to see things anew. You get a broader understanding of your property that you could have never gained with that small hole you were trying to dig.

In reference to scripture, we’d call this “context.” Understanding the who, what, when and where of the entirety of scripture helps us know how to go deeper and where to look, so we be sure to find the riches we’re really looking for.

It takes work to be sure. But the return for the effort is exponential!

You’ll also probably find other valuable insights you weren’t expecting. Sure they aren’t the treasure but, they’re worth hanging on to. Most of these bonus prizes would have remained undiscovered with the narrow-and-deep approach.

Most of us probably need to approach our bible differently. Maybe it’s less about quick answers and more about the dig.

What if we take the time to start broad and shallow, peeling back layers over time in order to get deep meaning from scripture?

The treasure we find may be even better than what we’re looking for.

Questions: How often do you find time to read broadly in scripture? What tips can you share to help find more time for our Bible study? Please leave a comment below!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.