Did you know that a cow will spend about six and a half hours eating each day? Why on earth does it do this? Is it really that bored? Have you ever taken the time to watch a cow eat? It’s very slow and methodical. I love how the Lord reveals great spiritual truths from nature. For example, the appetite of a cow provides a deep spiritual truth on how to chew on the Word.
The cow has four stomachs and undergoes a special digestive process to break down the tough and coarse food it eats. When the cow first eats, it chews the food just enough to swallow it. The unchewed food travels to the first two stomachs, the rumen and the reticulum, where it is stored until later. When the cow is full from this eating process, she rests. Later, the cow coughs up bits of the unchewed food called cud and chews it completely this time before swallowing it again. The cud then goes to the third and fourth stomachs, the omasum and abomasum, where it is fully digested. (See Moo-Antony: The Biology of a Cow)
Chewing in the Word of God has tremendous value. It is food for the soul. Here again, the Lord offers a great spiritual truth in the simple things of life. If we never feed our body, we will die. Similarly, if we never feed our soul, spiritually, we become lethargic and die.
It was Creighton Abrams, a military General who served in the Vietnam War, who is quoted as having said, “When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time“. In other words, when doing something that is difficult, do it slowly and be careful. We would be wise to follow this counsel as we approach the Word of God. It’s not how fast you consume the Word, it’s about absorbing all of the nutrients that the Holy Spirit feeds you.
In the microwave culture we live in that demands instant satisfaction, one can easily see the allure to “woofing” down one’s food. I mean, isn’t the point to fill the stomach? But like the cow, after it first eats, it rests and then coughs up what it has initially digested only to chew it again. Only when we chew on the Word, do we get the nutrients that our soul needs in order to grow.
Tortoise and the Hair
The story of the Tortoise and the Hair is about a turtle and a rabbit. One day, the rabbit challenged the turtle to a race, and the turtle accepted the challenge.
So a course was fixed and a start was made. The Hare darted almost out of sight at once, but soon stopped and, to show his contempt for the Tortoise, lay down to have a nap. The Tortoise plodded on and plodded on, and when the Hare awoke from his nap, he saw the Tortoise just near the winning-post and could not run up in time to save the race. Then the Tortoise said: “Slow but steady progress wins the race.” (See: The Tortoise and the Hare)
Paul put it this way, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it” (1 Corinthians 9:24). The runner who paces himself will finish the race.
How Does One Chew on the Word?
Remember, it’s not about how much of the Word you eat at a given sitting, it’s how you eat the Word. People tend to think that if they devour the Word (fast), like a panther pouncing on it’s prey, they will grow faster because they are eating a lot of spiritual food. But spiritual food that is not digested properly does not lead to growth. In fact, that can be dangerous, because you start to believe, “I’ve read that, I already know that” . . . and that is pride. Children don’t grow into adults overnight. It takes a lifetime.
So, how does one chew on the Word . . . like a grazing cow? In a word, . . . slowly. Chewing is a process. It takes time. Read it. Study it. Chew on it long and hard. The longer you chew, the stronger you become. Like a tailored suit, while you chew on the Word, the Holy Spirit will dress you with his character.
Just as God breathed life into Adam at creation, he so desires to breathe life into you. Allow the Holy Spirit to breathe His Word into your soul. Don’t try to lead him, but rather, let the Holy Spirit take you by the hand and walk with you, leading you on this journey.