The beginning of a new year is always a good time to reflect on what God has done and where He is calling us next. Our family was blessed with the birth of another incredible little girl last year, and while 2019 was full of joy, I also struggled to find new rhythms for my time with God. Everything from sticking with a regular morning “God time” to attending community group was wrought with seemingly insurmountable challenges. So, as we rang in 2020, I spent time reflecting on the year ahead and how my walk with the Lord could look different. During that reflection time, God put a topic (womanhood) on my heart that I feel He has called me to explore – possibly for the whole year. The specific topic isn’t the point of this blog – instead it’s the approach to exploring the topic that I feel called to share; especially in light of Pastor Shawn’s recent sermons. Let’s start with my typical approach…
As a recovering academic, my natural inclination is to seek out Bible commentaries and read books written by experts to learn in depth about a topic. What do people who have studied the topic for years say about it? What have I heard in sermons about the topic? While these are good things, for me they are often done at the expense of digging into the Word with God and listening to what He has to say.
When I read God’s word without God, it is just another way I am choosing independence rather than complete dependence on Him.
Additionally, by doing this I am missing out on the power of the scriptures. Psalm 86:1 says,
“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.”
The purpose of learning God’s way is so we can walk in His truth; something we cannot do without His spirit. In order to be doers of the word and not hearers only (James 1:25) we cannot approach the Bible without God.
Over the last few weeks I feel that God has been teaching me how to rely on Him instead of the “experts” (as if someone is more of a Bible “expert” than God…), and here are a few things I have learned:
1.) Surrender – We bring so much outside influence to God’s word: some grounded in His truth –and the rest in the world. It is critical that we surrender all of the things we think we know about God and His story and listen to what He is telling us through His word. This act of surrender is not a one-time deal. We are going to need to surrender once and read His word and listen. And repeat this process over and over as the layers are peeled back.
2.) God will lead the way - What I have learned so far is that God is leading me on a journey. My narrow view of study has already been expanded to topics beyond the one I first started with.
3.) Read chapters, meditate on verses or key themes – At church a few weeks ago Shawn talked about reading a chapter or two of scripture and then pulling out a few verses to dig into. God has also put this approach on my heart. I will read a chapter or two and then choose some key verses on which to focus while spending more time listening to Him.
4.) Ask God for help being disciplined – Something Shawn said last week really convicted me. He said he has seen so many of us exercise tremendous discipline in other areas of our lives. From our dedication to our careers to discipline around what we eat or our exercise routines. Yet I can make every excuse I can think of as to why I don’t show discipline in my walk with God. I have to remember that God gave me the ability to be disciplined – and while this does benefit me in other areas of my life – it should ultimately serve the kingdom.
5.) Accountability – We need to be accountable to each other in order to spur each other on
toward the Lord. I have tried to be really intentional about telling people in my life what I think God has called me to this year; my family, my pod and several of my close friends know what I am exploring. This is such an important part of the journey, not only for accountability, but also so we can all benefit from each other learning and listening to God.
Ultimately, I want to know God’s story. And I want to hear it from Him directly. This doesn’t mean I won’t consult outside resources and trusted advisors, but this year my focus will be on learning God’s truth from God and with God.