“The heart cannot love what the mind does not know. If we want to feel deeply about God we must learn to think deeply about God.” – Jen Wilkin
I have a confession to make. I am a pastor’s daughter, attended a Christian high school, have an undergraduate degree from a Christian college, a graduate degree from a seminary, and for the first twenty-five years of my life I didn’t know how to study the Bible in a way that engaged my heart and my mind.
The head and heart are a tricky pair aren’t they? The first half of my life I allowed my heart to lead the way. I chose what university I attended because it felt right. The same could be said about my first job, first church I chose, first group of friends. But something clicked in my mid-twenties. Perhaps it was attending a conservative seminary or it was just that my brain had finally fully developed, but I started valuing knowledge over heart. Sadly in an attempt to swing the pendulum back to the middle I overcorrected and landed in the self-righteous knowledgeable category.
And yet now, in my thirties, God in His kindness has used a variety of life lessons to bring me back towards the middle, where head and heart collide. I have learned that feelings without knowledge can lead to devastating understandings about God, and knowledge without love is like a noisy, clanging symbol that has a devastating on the people of God. But when knowledge leads you to love, and love leads you to knowledge, therein lies the sweet spot of being in relationship with a Holy God.
So what does that look like personally? How do I practically live in that balance?
Well, I don’t do this perfectly, but I have tried to develop the discipline of studying God’s word with my mind and my heart. I went through a phase in seminary where I argued that since up until the last few centuries most Christians didn’t have the written word of God in their homes, quiet times seemed frivolous and unnecessary. So for a few years I read books about the Bible, listened to sermons, I took classes, and yes I read the Bible too, but it was not my main source of manna.
In the last decade, the Word of God has taken a different role. I have slowed down my life in order to make room for reading it, studying it, and letting it change my heart. I try to set aside time at least four days a week where I have an hour to read, pray, listen to music, or just sit and be with my good Father. Rather than viewing Scripture as a means for knowledge, I view it as a way to know God more. I want to know more about who He is, rather than know more facts to puff up my pride or figure out my life.
No longer do I care if I’m the smartest person in the room, rather my hope is that each person I come in contact with walks away knowing that they are adored by a good and gracious God. My desire isn’t to see women empowered, rather it’s for women to know that they’re dearly loved – with the hope that a knowledge of being loved will fuel them on to both know and love their creator God.
And a few years in, my heart and mind have finally synced up. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t seasons when one or the other tries to take charge, but I have found that time spent in Scripture has grown a dependence on the Holy Spirit and a sensitivity to His conviction and leading.
I don’t want to be deceitful; this has been a really hard discipline for me, but it’s been one that is worth pursuing and one that I’ll have to continually pursue the rest of my life. Learning how to study God’s word has made ALL THE DIFFERENCE in my life so I want to share a few resources that have really blessed me in my attempts at discipline:
How to Study God’s Word (Video Resource on Knowing Your Bible)
Blessings on your journey to HOPE with both your head and your heart,