Way back, thirty years ago, I used to write bible study notes, sometimes daily for IBRA, Scripture Union and sometimes weekly with a column in the Baptist Times. Such studies are helpful for disciplining daily study, though much depends on finding the right match. As John Owen commented: 'In the divine Scriptures there are shallows and deeps; shallows where the lamb may wade, and deeps where the elephant may swim.' Sometimes I have felt mismatched like a sheep in the deeps.
At the moment I am trying to finish a series on Ephesians for the Scripture Union series called Encounter with God that wants to inspire by theological depth and pastoral warmth. It's quite a challenge.
However, a bizarre thing occurred. It just so happens that one of my Baptist Times series was on Ephesians. It ran for 36 weeks from June 14 1984 until April 4 1885. How on earth do I remember those dates? Well, as I was thinking about all the hard work I had once put into this weekly column I wondered what had become of it. In one of our bookcases there was a plastic basket of artists' materials. I cannot remember looking at it since moving into our Cambridge house (or long before then). I haven't a clue why I rather idly removed the top box of oil crayons three weeks ago. But to my utter astonishment, a bundle of yellowing newspaper columns jumped out. Attached to them was a letter from a lady who had faithfully cut them all out and sent them on to me. Everything else in the basket was art materials.
I read the studies recollecting vaguely my work ! Each is 600 words in length and, as you can guess with 36 columns, I was able to deal with the whole book verse by verse (with illustrations too). However, Encounter asks me to do a very different task. I only have twelve studies with around 300 words each. And, what really makes it demanding is the requirement to focus on a key theological theme in each block of text. In fact, instructions to writers insists that they do not write commentaries! So, I am encouraged to do a new thing...and what is glorious and the continuing gift of inspired Scripture is seeing truths with fresh eyes and deeper experience. I want to complete the task by Christmas...so it's plenty of wading/swimming to go.