The kitchen was warm in the heat of the summer but the smell was intoxicating. A sweet aroma of berry and fresh, homemade pastry wafted to greet me with the heat. Natalie was baking homemade pie, but she was apologizing about it. "It's not like your pie. I just do the easy, quick, fold-over crust."
I assured her that even the most famous chefs bring things down to basics at times. They just call their new creation "deconstructed" to keep it fancy pants. Natalie was making homemade, deconstructed, summer harvest berry pies, and they looked (and tasted!) every bit as delicious as the old-fashioned, fluted classic.
Ladies, sometimes, we need to deconstruct our Bible study. Like the pie crust, it doesn't really matter to me so much how that pie gets in my belly. What I really want is the pie. I will take it in a house. I will take it with a mouse. JUST GIVE ME THAT PIE! Many times, we get too focused on the 'what' and the 'how' of Bible study and forget the 'why.' I LOVE Bible study tools. I LOVE equipping women to study the Bible. But you know what I need to love more? Maybe you expect me to say, "The Bible itself!" here or sing the "B-I-B-L-E" Sunday school song. But really, I love Jesus. I need to love him more than the ways or people that bring me closer to Him.
The Bible is God's Word: the best way we can get to know Him. When we study it, we are spending time with him and learning what He loves and what He doesn't. This year, I have learned how I can make even better use of my time in His Word and understand it better. Dayton Women in the Word's mission in part is to share study tools with you, but the ultimate goal is getting you to the thing itself, which is really a who: Jesus. At our first city-wide gathering, our girl Natalie put it best by saying, "our thing is not THE thing." Ladies, our thing, the Bible, is not the thing. The thing has always been and forever will be Jesus Christ, our Savior.
At our church, we use a tool for discipleship called "Quad." Essentially, it is a group of four-ish people meeting regularly to encourage and challenge one another's growth in Christ. In my own life, I've seen Jesus use quads to catalyze men and women in their faith. I've also seen quads where "life-dumping" is the focus, where arguments about who is in quad and when quad happens and the content of quad cloud THE THING. My friend always jokes, "Jesus didn't say 'Go, therefore and make QUADS.'" What did he say? He said, "Go, therefore, and make disciples." Satan uses our tools against us, sometimes, yes?
By all means, outline your Bible chapter. Compare translations. Look up cross references. Memorize. Paraphrase. Study commentaries. Go to conferences and workshops and gatherings. Learn how to study the Bible well. But sometimes, deconstruct. When you begin to notice your heart is focused on checking off 'the steps,' get back to the heart of Bible study. Get back to Jesus. Ask him to refresh your love for Him. Praise Him for caring enough about you to give you His Word. Invite Him back into your study. Walk back into His kitchen, hungry and thirsty for His Word, because you are hungry and thirsty for Him. "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the (wo)man who takes refuge in him!" (Psalm 34:8)