Studying the word is one of my favorites. As a young boy, I have pondered God all my life. Delving into the word however difficult it can be at times delights me. My desire for learning grew out of wonder when listening to sermons. I could not always understand what was being taught or proclaimed. In addition, I was confused when my friends talked about other ways that people understood scripture. I was a slow reader and as a result, I flunked confirmation. That is correct. I flunked it but the pastor passed me because of my devotion to the church and my eagerness to learn. So when I say that I love this discipline I speak from deep within my soul. I will never learn enough and I will never stop searching.
But I need to add that this discipline alone is not enough. My desire to understand God intellectually hit a wall when my daughter had a brain tumor. At that moment when I learned of her condition, it didn’t matter how much I knew about scripture or God. I needed God’s presence and mercy to calm my soul, dry my tears, and come to my aid. He did! I learned through that experience about God’s love that comes through the people of God. God is not known alone with a book in a room. God is fully known and experienced in community.
That being said, study is repetition, concentration, and reflection. You can never read enough. The more you read the scriptures and books about the scriptures the more questions you will have. In fact, it is a quest. I know people who read the scripture daily is large bites and they are forever learning more. So the way to begin is just read. Read a Gospel or Letter from the New Testament. Read Genesis or Exodus! I assure you that after reading those two books, the rest of the Old Testament will forever will be referencing back to them. Read one of the prophets. Go to our church library and read a book that teaches ways to read the Bible. There are websites that can help you. One of my favorite is Enter the Bible. Google it and you will be amazed about how much information there is. Read, Read, Read. Repetition and concentration.
Reflection. Scripture is best understood when read with others. When you read with others you will see so much more through other people’s eyes who have read the very same thing and experienced it differently. Be open to hearing others and don’t be afraid to discuss your different understanding. There are no stupid questions. There is only a quest to know God. Ask questions of the text. Don’t just drink the cool aid. Drill down deeper and be bold in your exploration. God had big shoulders and a big heart. He delights in your desire to know Him better.
God is not just in a book. Look around you. Take a moment and explore your world. What does God’s creation tell you or teach you. Walk in the woods, look up in the sky, and look around you at all the people. God created all of this and God shines through all of it. Come to love it as God does. While this may not be seen as academic it is just as valuable to discovering God through your mind’s eye.