It’s that time of year when hundreds of young people around the country are preparing for the National Bible Bee Competition (NBBC). Though I’m writing from “the other side of the fence” so to speak, I know precisely what it’s like to invest one’s summer and fall in the NBBC. From experience, I know that some of you reading this article are most likely “drowning” in endless study and perhaps drenched in sweat as you anticipate the NBBC. Your countless hours of preparation will culminate in one hour of the Multiple Choice Test and ten minutes of oral recitation. Questions may arise in your mind such as “Is it worth it?”, “What all could I be doing if I wasn’t doing the National Bible Bee study?”, or “Can I go on any longer…?” Well, I have good news for you! You are not the only one in the history of the NBBC who has ever felt overwhelmed!
As I ponder the years God allowed me to participate in the National Bible Bee, I can recall more grind than glamor, more tears than triumph, and more endurance than ease. But the rigor was still exceeded by the reward! For the precious Word of God which will not return void is the incorruptible seed that has and will continue to bring forth lasting fruit (Isaiah 55:11; 1 Peter 1:23). From age 7-14, the endless hours I spent studying, memorizing, and proclaiming God’s Word were not in vain. In fact, God’s Word has and is continuing to change my life. In life, the consequences we reap today are a direct result of the decisions we made five years ago. The decision to be immersed and saturated in the infallible Word of God is one I have not regretted!
In 2009, our family began participating in the National Bible Bee. The first couple years were completely overwhelming to me (largely due to my bad attitude), but the Lord began to do a work in my heart. From 2012-2016, as I competed at the NBBC, the Lord taught me many specific lessons from the competition. Honestly, studying for me was far from glamorous. In fact, I had MANY times when I felt like “throwing in the towel”. During my last two years (2015-2016) of studying for the NBBC, it seemed as if there was a Satanic attack launched against my mind during the Nationals season. Looking back, attacks like those do not surprise me since Satan is opposed to God’s Word and is doing all he can to diminish it. Many days, I would try to study only to be seemingly overcome with doubts and fear. Even on stage, my mind was often a complete wreck. But through it all, God lovingly taught me that “His grace is sufficient and His strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). I’m truly grateful for what God’s Word has done and is continuing to do in my life.
Six years have come and gone since my last year of competing in the National Bible Bee. For me, the memory is definite, but distant. The applause was fleeting and the praise short-lived. Even the monetary reward is not fire-proof (1 Cor 3:13.) But one thing remains that will outlast my lifetime—that one thing is the pure Word of God. At age fourteen, when my days of competing in the NBB were over, the impact of the Word of God on my life had just begun.
With that in mind, my challenge to you is to think beyond the daily grind of study and the yearly excitement of a competition; to get a picture of life through the lens of eternity; and to realize that the godly legacy that will last is the one that is lived. May you get ahold of a real walk with God and let God’s Word get ahold of you. One day, your participation in the NBB will be over. When it fades, will you continue to love and live God’s Word? Do you know the reality of walking with God? Reality —Do you know the Lord and does He know you (Matthew 7:22-23, Galatians 4:9)? Are you born again (John 3:3)? Saved (Acts 16:31)? In Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)? These are all Bible terms used to define the act of a sinner being brought from death to life (Ephesians 2:1). 2 Corinthians 13:5 commands us to “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith”. You cannot effectively make Christ known without first knowing Him! Walking —To walk with God is a daily, moment by moment, surrender to Him. In the Bible, it is pictured in the following commands: “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), “Abide in me” (John 15:4), and “Walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16). This walk with God is cultivated by daily time spent with the Lord in His Word and prayer. With God —This speaks of God’s holiness and its demands on our life (1 Peter 1:16). If we walk with Him, we will become like Him (Psalm 17:15). When you intake God’s Word, it will make a profound difference in your life (Hebrews 4:12)!
As you finish your study for the 2022 NBBC, it is my desire and prayer that you finish well (2 Timothy 4:7)!! Above all, may your focus be on the inspired, infallible, inerrant, eternal, preserved Word of God which is the final authority for faith and practice. When in despair, it is your greatest source of comfort. In uncertainty, it will be your guide and counsel. In temptation, it is your strength. For every problem, God’s Word has the answer! It is like water (Ephesians 5:26), a lamp and a light (Psalm 119:105), a sword (Hebrews 4:12), a fire, and a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces (Jeremiah 23:29). God’s Word is sweeter than honey and more valuable than gold (Psalm 19:10). Man has tried to water it down and weaken it down, but it will prevail for it is preserved!
May you love it, learn it, live it, and let God’s perfect Word change your life!!
Written by NBB Alumnus: Taylor Bontrager