I was challenged to read through the Bible in 40 days. I prefer studying to reading. When I read it, I approach it more as a book I’m reading, turning each page to get to the end. I absorb what I can. I try to make connections. I wonder how I ever missed something or how I’ll ever remember many somethings. Even reading at a slower pace as my husband and I read through it in a year seems a bit quick for me.
When I study it, I approach it with more intention and attention. I camp in it. I draw intricate webs among verses, people, and concepts. I dig into the roots of words to bridge language gaps. I see highlights God is creating for me, and I create patterns of learning that help me remember. God challenges me to live his Word out loud in practical application. I sift through God’s Word as he sifts my life with his truth.
I know both reading and studying are important. God teaches me through both. Each discipline can change me, or rather, God changes me through each discipline. As I interact with God through his living Word, he invades moments in life-changing ways.
I might prefer to learn in certain ways, but he’s able to teach in any way. And he does. I have some a-ha moments, but God has a lot going on that I’m not aware of much of the time. He knows how and when to work in order for me to learn and apply what will challenge me to grow. He uses his Word to prepare, convict, and correct me.
Preparation. God plants and tends seeds I’ll need later. I might not know how I’m going to apply a lesson or even if I’m going to apply a lesson. One lesson builds on another in imperceptible ways until they collide with an experience. I might not recall all the details of the lessons, but I have a moment of recollection, as if I’ve been here before. God leaves a trail of breadcrumbs, and I know he has been purposefully walking alongside me on the path leading to where I am.
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Timothy 4:2)
Conviction. God provides the truth I need at the moment I need it. Sometimes it feels like a cold cup of water thrown in my face, like a wake-up call to jolt me from a spiritual slumber. Other times, it feels like a gentle nudge or an “atta-girl” encouragement. Either way, God lines up his truth with my perspective and reveals the difference and similarity. He superimposes his reality onto mine, and challenges me to yield everything of myself into his presence. He has a better vantage point and shares a glimpse with me.
For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 1:4-6)
Correction. God reveals the truthfulness of past situations. He connects the fruit of my life to my growth process, including how I responded to his instruction along the way. I might not have given much consideration when I ignored a gentle prodding or bold teaching, but when he draws the connections along the process, I learn about God’s desires and provision, as well as my obedience. Correction applies to the lessons of when I responded well, too. I often learn lessons more about God’s mercy and grace than any effort I could ever extend. When I trust God to shed his light on my past, I can believe what he sees in the past over what I’ve concluded on my own.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
God can teach us in whatever way he chooses. We choose whether or not we learn. God wants us to move beyond knowing about him. He wants us to know him personally. He wants us to move beyond believing in him. He wants us to believe him. God wants us to move beyond learning his Word. He wants us to live his Word. Are you inviting him to prepare, convict, and correct you today?