Completing SBS was an amazing achievement. It felt so good to have finally finished the 9 month task of studying the whole Bible inductively. All the long hours of study: the outloud reads, the color coding, the dictionary reading, the charting, and the lectures were finally done. I could finally relax and look forward to an assignment-less, and deadline-free summer.
Actually, the irony is this: it took me until the 3rd quarter to finally feel comfortable with the SBS work. And by the time we were charting the prophets I was just starting to enjoy it. In fact, when we finished with the climactic book of Matthew, I found myself thinking something I never expected: I wished I could chart the whole New Testament over again.
SBS gave me something invaluable: it gave me a sense of familiarity with the Bible. It was amazing how all the scriptures from Genesis to Revelation all tied together and seemed so tangible and fresh in my mind. I loved the experience of reading the prophets, and seeing how they referenced back to the covenant in Deuteronomy and yet hinted about the fulfillment found in Jesus written about in the Gospels, and oftentimes told in poetic language and pictures similar to that of Revelation. While studying one book, my mind was filled with the context of all the previous books I had studied.
One thing was for sure: I did not want to lose that.
So I decided that I would spend that next year maintaining that familiarity as best I could. I made it a goal to read the whole Bible again in the year that followed my SBS. It was awesome. After studying the whole Old Testament in 2nd and 3rd quarter of SBS (the Law and Covenant, the history of Israel, the prophets) and finishing with Matthew, I felt that Hebrews would be a great way to start my new year. The week after SBS graduation I began. The year went by, and I stayed on track, and as the SBS class of the next year was finishing up their final book, Matthew, I also read through my final book. I finished with Matthew too.
That year was crazy.
It is a serious time-commitment to read through the whole Bible. I’m not a fast reader, though that improved a bit during my SBS. I had to read nearly everyday. And I would oftentimes read about 7-10 chapters each day to stay on track. But it was well worth it.
In the midst of that, I had a busy year in ministry, juggling my responsibilities as YWAM Montana staff, as well as working towards my goal. Here’s a taste of what the year was like: During that Summer, I helped work in our Facilities dept. by hosting and working alongside our church work teams (VWAP). In the Fall, my wife and I helped lead a team of musicians and dancers on a 1 month evangelistic tour down the West Coast to Los Angeles and back. In December, we were asked to become the DTS Directors, a department of approximately 30 staff. In the Winter, we coached new school leaders in the DTS, all the while learning to be DTS Directors, and preparing for the Spring DTS which we led after the Winter DTS finished.
Reading the Bible everyday was probably the best part of that year. It was actually what got me up in the mornings. I would literally go to bed at night looking forward to reading my Bible. When the alarm went off at 6am, I was motivated to get up because I had something both important and enjoyable to do right away. The familiarity with the Bible that SBS gave me, and the following year of maintaining that familiarity, was extremely helpful as I had many opportunities to teach. The prep for those teachings was so easy to put together because the Bible was so fresh in my mind. This is a major benefit for anyone in ministry or leadership. But as I alluded to before, my daily Bible reading had great personal benefit as well, daily.
I tell my story because I have seen and experienced the benefit of knowing and studying the Bible. But I don’t think that as Christians we can just do a Bible study school or program and call it “good enough”. We need to stay familiar with the Bible.
Even as DTS staff (or the Director now), I am apart of a great program that pursues God’s presence, teaches the power of the Gospel, and even sees the fruit of the Gospel in the lives of our staff and students. But I can’t depend on that program alone to maintain my relationship with God. I need to take my relationship with God into my own hands. Reading the Bible, and staying familiar with it, keeps me in close contact with my
Creator and Savior. It gives Him daily opportunity to speak to my heart. And it keeps my mind filled with the Truth about Him. As I described to you my experience in SBS and after, I hope that you were encouraged as you remember your own journey through the Bible over the years. And as I shared with you my recent year of re-reading, and continuing in ministry, I hope that you are encouraged to also stay familiar with the Bible. Grace and peace to you 😉
By Zac Eastwood