It’s true. The more I study the Bible, the broader is my understanding of who God is, and what are his plans. And the more I learn, the deeper in love with him I become. It’s just that crazy simple and straightforward! God is revealing himself – to me! – through his Word. What’s not to love?
Most eager followers of Jesus echo this sentiment. I’m certainly not discovering something new here. Indeed, many people start learning the Bible as young children, and in some circles this is a common Sunday thing. (Sunday school did not exist in my time, at least not where my family went to church. We never read the Bible, let alone work at understanding it; we just followed rules that were laid out for us without much explanation or context, but with a huge sense of obligation. It’s a pretty common backstory.)
So, for me, Bible study is groundbreaking stuff; I’m discovering a tangible freshness in this ancient book. The real trick is trying to explain this personal phenomenon for non-believers, or on-the-fence-about-God folks, or the kind of “traditional” Christians with whom I grew up, or those who feel the Bible is too complicated or time-consuming to get much out of it.
How to explain the ways in which this book thrills me to my core? Can the same book be excrutiatingly boring to some, and exhiletating to others? Or both these experiences happen to the same person at different times in their life? Do the words even exist to illustrate my ever-growing, joy-filled passion for the Bible?
All I know is the fire that was lit inside of me over 20 years ago when I came to know God, and when his Spirit alighted into my heart/soul, well, that fire has been burning much brighter since I began digging into the Bible one year ago. And it continues to expand and deepen the more I learn and study. Happy anniversary to me!
I was even considering attending Seminary school because I crave more Biblical understanding. But I decided against the heavy load and intensive schedule that would entail, not to mention the huge financial commitment needed for a master’s degree. Instead, I’m structuring my own study regime, thereby elliminating the strain of a formal engagement. With most university courses readily available on-line these days, I can pick and choose. I like the flexibility this approach offers.
I can take classes with my favourite biblical scholar, historian, and former Anglican bishop, Professor N.T. Wright, who teaches in the UK. This wise man counsels students to read a broad range of scholarly authors, even those you disagree with! An interesting thought to keep at the back of my mind as I investigate the biblical background, or “pedigree”, of a potential author, for clues as to their perspectives on matters of Christian faith. And wether their thesis would enrich my study.
My hunger for studying the Bible is undoubtedly connected to my love of learning in general. I enjoyed school (except when I quit high-school, but that’s a whole other story!) At this stage in my life, self-directed study suits me well. And, it gives me permission to spend money on books and courses than I might not otherwise have allowed. If I were enroled in seminary, wouldn’t I have a long list of books to buy?
What motivated me (kicked me in the behind…) to write the current post is one such book. I am SO EXCITED about my new interleaved Bible!! That’s a volume with every other page left blank to encourage note-taking and/or art journaling. Imagine an entire blank slate beside every written page of the Bible! Woo hoo!! I tell you, this is an exciting day for me. Because I have been looking for a excuse to get me one of those babies, for many months now! But I already have several journaling Bibles (with extra-wide margins) plus a few of those designed for art journaling. There is no way I could justify yet another Bible in my seriously expanding arsenal. Until now. Because this newest addition is perfectly suited to bible study!
Now I have enough space for note taking, personal reflection, cross-reference insights, etc. It just feels so right, because I can capture my thoughts and questions on paper as I learn. And I much prefer having my notes integrated right in my Bible rather than in a separate notebook – that I probably would seldom review. Dear readers, my Bible study has gotten even better! (Impossible! you say?)
I’ve been learning how to use different techniques for getting the most out of the Bible, thanks to a study by Daily Grace Co. called Search the Word. This is stuff that seminary students learn, and it is serving me nicely.
One practical biblical concept that I’ve been thinking about is the idea of leaving our issues or anxieties in God’s hands, just handing them all over to him just like that. [1 Peter ch.5, verse 7; Philipians ch.4, verses 6-7]
Easier said than done, right? We sometimes “think” we are giving our worries up to God simply because we’ve said the words. Yet we continue to worry or mull over the very things we have “let go of”. There’s a saying that captures this: “You can trust God or you can worry. You cannot do both.” Hmmm…
Remembering a recent situation while selling our summer house in another province. (I just spent September and October looking after things there.) The potential buyer’s bank requested an extension for their financial “ruling” that would determine whether or not we had a sale. This meant waiting an additional three days over Thanksgiving weekend, to know if the house was indeed sold.
We had already waited a week, and now they wanted more time. I was feeling frustrated and stressed out. I could either fret all weekend, imagining a slew of potential problems and what-if scenarios. Or, I could release the situation to God, and not worry until – and only if – it was time to worry. And I could enjoy our holiday weekend. I chose the later, and I did so I felt a river of stress leave my body to be replaced with a real sense of calm. Ahhh. Much better.
I understand how difficult it can be to “let go”, and how darn simple it can be once you learn how. Not easy, but simple.
God is all about conundrums. He just wants us to trust in him. And we have a hard time trusting an invisible being.
Do you have a ‘handing it over to God’ story? I would love to know how it went for you. Let me know in the comment.
Much love, Michèle