What I learned after studying the Bible for 2 years
I have officially graduated from the School of Biblical Studies! Almost 2 years of study, reading through the entire Bible 5 times, in 5 unique ways. Taking a close look at every paragraph of text and engaging with difficult passages. Observing, interpreting, applying. You may be expecting some great wisdom from me, a nice download of information of what I've learned. But honestly, my biggest take away is that I still have so much more to learn. There is not a word of Scripture that I haven't studied, but I could study this book for another 100 years and still not run out of revelation and encouragement. I think the reason for this is that the Holy Spirit loves Scripture. He did write it after all, He's a big fan of His work :). I've always been someone who feels God in worship, and would do devotionals out of obedience, but never really felt close to God through reading. But over the past few years, I have felt God in Scripture. I have experienced life changing moments with Him. I have wept, I have laughed, I have been lit up with joy as I read my Bible. I have felt the closeness of the Holy Spirit, bringing wisdom and revelation from studying books and chapters I never would have considered powerful. I have been transformed through a single verse that I have read a thousand times before. I did this school online, so I was studying alone, and I need you to know there is nothing special about me. We received some teaching, but mostly were on our own, with the Lord, letting Him reveal truth through His Word. You have the same Holy Spirit, and access to the same revelation. You don't have to be a scholar to benefit from Scripture.
I believe in long term investment in Scripture. What I mean by this, is to take a passage, and stay there until it's in your bones. A verse, a chapter, maybe a book. Maybe just read Ephesians for a year, until the truth of it has settled in you. There is incredible benefit to familiarizing yourself with a piece of Scripture, like a cow chewing the cud - which is totally gross, but effective. They regurgitate and chew their food over and over, which is what produces sweet milk. I have learned that even those long boring genealogies have something to say, and God will bring revelation and transformation as you invest your time and intentions with Him.
I have also learned that some parts of the Bible require wrestling. There are so many difficult passages, the ones that don't seem to line up with who I know God to be. The ones that seem to contradict each other. The ones that seem so vague that every church in the country has a different interpretation of. And rather than avoiding them, or approaching them with your mind made up of what it is saying, there is another option that requires more effort. To wrestle with the difficult passages means that you approach them with an open mind, and you allow it to tell you what it's saying. There is some great resources on this site about the method of inductive Bible study and what kind of questions to ask, if you're interested. But in the end, there are some things that we hold open handed, learning to be uncomfortable, allowing ourselves to hold unanswered questions while at the same time fully trusting the character of God.
What have I learned about who God is after all this study? I've learned that He is so much better than we think. I've learned that love is His motivation for everything that He does, that He has been pursuing us for all of eternity just so that He could love us up close. I've learned that He is never changing but always doing something new. I've learned that He wants to raise my standards until I think like Him and have that singular motivation. He is so much kinder than you think.
When I started this website, I was worried that I would run out of things to say. I kind of hoarded my encouragement, concerned that I would soon run out! But what I've learned is that in the Kingdom, the more you invest, the more God releases. God will not run out of things to say to you from His Word. God will not fail to bring revelation when you invite Him.
Invite the Holy Spirit as you read, to guide you into truth and bring wisdom and revelation.
Invest long term in a piece of Scripture. Stay in it, until it's in you.
Engage with the difficult passages - ask questions, be open, and be uncomfortable.
My prayer for you is that as you read this, God would spark a hunger in you for His Word, and that you would realize how much you want His revelation. I pray that He would meet you in those pages, and that what I have experienced with the Holy Spirit would only be a tenth of what you get. Dig in, friends.