It’s not really worth all this frustration, is it?
It’s just not meant to be.
Why don’t you just give up and move on?
Have you heard those whispers before? Maybe hidden under the guise of living concern? Maybe slightly irritated whispers? Maybe not whispers at all. Maybe strident, nagging remarks.
I’ve heard them. Mostly they come from my own flawed thinking. Lately it is about weight loss. Is one or two pounds a month really worth all this effort? Maybe there’s something in my body chemistry that won’t allow you to lose weight. Why stress over it? Why don’t you just give up?
I’ve heard it about other issues too – mothering, writing, ministry, consistency in prayer…
So why don’t I give up? Because God gives me hope through his Word:
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6
Don’t give up! God never gives up on you, so you have no business giving up either.
From the very first chapter in which she wrote that the Bible is a book about God and that our knowledge of God informs all of life, I was hooked because those are things I believe strongly. I can’t agree more with Jen’s statement that “…the heart cannot love what the mind does not know.”
Most of the book is taken up with explaining the “five P’s of sound study” which are Purpose, Perspective, Patience, Process, and Prayer. Let’s take a quick look at these five P’s.
1. Purpose – When we study a particular book or passage of Scripture, we need to be looking for the Big Story of the whole Bible. The entire Bible follows the metanarrative of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration and the whole metanarrative is based on God and his character. We need to understand all the stories of the Bible in the light of this metanarrative.
2. Perspective – We need to understand the Bible in the light of its original historical and cultural context. Jen suggests asking five questions:
Who wrote the book or passage?
When was it written?
To whom was it written?
In what style was it written?
Why was it written?
3. Patience – This part of Women of the Word is the real reason that this is my favorite Bible study book. Jen explains that Bible study is not an easy process. It is often frustrating; it demands effort and requires discipline. She writes, “…sound Bible study is rooted in a celebration of delayed gratification.” She goes so far as to say that we will sometimes feel lost as we try to understand the Bible.
“Could it be that feeling lost is one way God humbles us when we come to his Word, knowing that in due time he will exalt our understanding?”
I have had that lost feeling before…thinking that I’m just not smart enough or not spiritual enough to understand a passage. With years it’s easier to see now that Bible study is like a savings account. Those first few dollars in the account seem insignificant. It seems that we will never reach our savings goal. But then years pass and the account grows and grows beyond what we were even hoping for.
It’s important to study with patience – to be willing to be lost for a while, to continue to build the account, to believe that understanding will come and to never give up. You know, it’s not just important to study with patience – it is essential.
“If I never fight for interpretation on my own, I might accept whatever interpretation I am given at face value. And that’s a dangerous route to drive.”
And one last wonderfully encouraging word from the third P – life stages change and some of them make Bible study extremely difficult. There are times when we must see that it’s okay if we aren’t able to study in depth and we must trust God with those times, confident that wonderful times of study are ahead of us.
4. Process – This P is the nuts and bolts and is comprised of three parts:
Comprehension – What does it say?
Interpretation – What does it mean?
Application – How should it change me?
5. Prayer – Jen reminds us that learning the Bible is like all other parts of the Christian life in that it is “the result of the Holy Spirit working in and through our efforts.” Prayer is what will change a search for head knowledge into a search for God himself. We must pray before, during and after Bible study.
Women of the Word is one of those books that makes you feel like the author knows you and wants only the best for you. If you will read these last two quotes I think you will understand what I mean.
There are many good reasons to invest in learning God’s Word, but there is none better than this: that with every purposeful effort, with every perspective-laced reading, with every patient step forward, with each process-ordered attempt, with every prayer-infused interlude in the pages of Scripture, we move closer to his countenance, we come more directly in line with the radiance of his face. We see him for who he is, which is certainly a reward in itself, but it is a reward with the secondary benefit of being forever altered by the vision.
So make a faithful study of the One you want to imitate, as a dearly loved child. Study everything that makes God wonderful and mimic to your heart’s delight, as the joyful expression of your reciprocal love for him.
Read Women of the Word, won’t you? And after you do, if you’re like me you will want more. Jen Wilkin’s website is The Beginning of Wisdom and on her blog you will find links to Bible studies she has taught at her home chuch, The Village Church. I’m about to finish her study on Genesis 1-11 – wonderful!
This is my first post in a new category which I am going to christen “Very Pinteresting”. Do you have a zillion pins on Pinterest like I do? Granted – some of those pins are purely for the pleasure of looking at and keeping – like a scrapbook. But I did pin some of them with the intention of actually doing them. So, I am challenging myself to do at least one of my pins every month and to record it on my new “Very Pinteresting” page. Project Number One requires a bit of background. First, I am crazy about the idea of having a piece of taxidermy (preferably a deer head) in my house. I don’t want to go hunting – never been hunting in my life. I just want to find one that I can afford to buy without feeling guilty for spending money on a deer head. Second, my office mate, Christine, and I are slightly out of our minds about glitter. We work in children’s ministry – what do you expect? So, when I saw this sparkly deer’s head on Pinterest, I knew I had to make one for myself. It started out like this: Then it progressed to this: And, finally it ended up like this (imagine it without the shadows – sorry!): Love it! I think I’m going to have to take it to work to decorate our office. Thanks, Kimberly, from Mixed Method and to whoever pinned my glittery deer head first. It looks like it’s going to be a sparkly Christmas!
This morning when you left the house, did you notice? Did you notice the way the fog felt on your face? Did you notice the streaks of pink and purple in the sky as the sun rose? Did you notice the leftover wildflowers in the late autumn fields? Did you notice the blades of grass bending so gracefully in the wind? Did you notice the vibrant colors of the last leaves of fall?
Did you notice what God had done?
I had a friend who was a gifted watercolorist in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. He did quite a few paintings of the scenic churches of the valley, but he also created tiny paintings of the wildflowers of the area. A farmer’s wife who had seen these wildflowers all her life marveled over the details she had never noticed before and asked Mike if he painted these so that people would notice. I’m not sure that my artist friend knew the answer, but I know that God used his painting that day to help a woman notice the artistry of our God.
Which of His tiny, beautiful wonders are you rushing past today?