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People don’t buy quarter-inch drill bits. They buy quarter-inch holes so they can hang their children’s pictures.
– Chip Heath & Dan Heath, Made to Stick, page 179
The Saturn V is the rocket that took the Apollo 11 lunar module “Eagle” to the moon.
Having worked two summers as an undergraduate research fellow at JPL/NASA, I can imagine what it took to make the Saturn V (pronounced “Saturn five”) a reality. Rocket scientists pulling all-nighters. Precise calculations coming from years of education and research. Tests, failures, reworked designs, more tests and tests and tests.
I can imagine myself as one of the astronauts on my way to the moon. I have practiced and studied to understand the rocket that will take me there. I know how this spacecraft works, down to every knob and meter, every strap and latch. I train in it every day, becoming more familiar with its details and mechanisms. I want to set my boots on the moon.
I love getting to know the rocket. I ride in it and know the thrill of several G’s of pull on me during liftoff and, later, the rare exhilaration of weightless space travel. But after all my astronaut’s training in the rocket, I know I want more than the rocket itself. I want the moon.
Sometimes I leave the Bible on the kitchen table all day, open to where I can read the verses on that page every time I pass by.
My Bible reading is an alternating-day habit. Every other day, I read one day of a one-year Bible reading plan. In this way I read the whole Bible about every two years.
On alternate days, I do an in-depth study of whatever book of the Bible I choose (currently 1 Samuel), taking just a few verses each day in the “manuscript Bible study” method I learned at Campus by the Sea and in CCF Bible studies.
I memorize long sections of the Bible using a memorization aid: write the first letter of each word. Then I take that paper with me on my daily walk, thus combining a spiritual discipline with a physical discipline.
I sing lyrics that glorify God and edify His Body by downloading free lead sheets from my favorite songwriters.
The words of Scripture are wonderful and exalted.
”Open my eyes, that I may behold
Wonderful things from Your law.”
– Psalm 119:18
“You have exalted above all things your name and your word.”
– Psalm 138:2
But to maintain the spiritual discipline of daily Bible reading, I need to think of the Bible as the rocket. What I want even more is the moon.
My Bible reading happens before I even open the cover. How do I approach the Bible? With what heart attitude do I turn the pages? Do I read it only as an intellectual exercise and remain content with the increased head knowledge? If so, it’s just words on a page. That rocket goes nowhere.
Intimacy with God is the moon.
Another day passes. I awake at 2:30 a.m. and see the full moon out my bedroom window. I watch the moon’s descent until its smiling circumference kisses the mountain silhouette. I think of the moon as insomnia gives way to slumber, and I know that tomorrow again, I can open God’s Word. I’m not in it just for the ride—but what an awesome ride. The Word is a blast!
I want the moon, but I can’t get there without the rocket. So I turn the pages and read. The Eagle has landed.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.
– Psalm 130:5
Top photo by Patricia Hunter.
Bottom photo: my son with the toy Saturn V he designed.