There is a reality that I can not minister to those God has graciously called me to minister to without spending time with the Lord. Also, I take courses through Moody Bible Institute because my heart desires to being better equipped to minister to them. Through these (personal study and academic study), it can become very easy to miss the point of them to see, experience and savor God.
During my devotions this morning, I was struck by the words of Maurice Roberts in his book The Thought of God:
We emphasize knowledge; they (early Reformers) stressed faith. We emphasize gifts; they insisted on grace. We study to inform the head; they studied to reform the heart. Our temptation is to neglect the soul-to fail in the cultivation of faith (Page 50).
Don’t get me wrong, studying is extremely beneficial and I love studying! But, studying to get an A and thus finding my self-worth in that, or studying out of a sense of obligation because of my calling is not beneficial. Studying reforms my heart to help cultivate faith (Roberts). Studying brings me to the throne room of the Glorious God, in whose presence I long to be in continuously.
Paul Miller’s book A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World is one that I highly recommend. In it, Miller compares praying with driving in that “….focusing on the conversation is like trying to drive while looking at the windshield instead of through it.” I think the same danger applies to studying. Last week I struggled doing my devotions and my life was thrown into a swirl. I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t do anything. I felt so lost and alone. I need to study, not for intellect, grade, or obligation; but because through studying I am drawn closer to my Father and apart from Him I can do nothing.
Christ’s words in John 15 were a comfort to me this morning, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 ESV). The sweetest fruit that I receive from abiding is more of Christ. I want him more. I long for a deeper intimacy with him. As it was for the church fathers, the Apostles, and Christ himself, I find that intimacy as I study His Word.
Thank you Father for Your Word. Through it, I see You, know You, and I am drawn to You.