For those of us still in school, we are studying so we can get out.
For those in post-secondary, you are learning and researching so you can get out.
For those in apprenticeship programs, work experience, or other forms of applied learning, you are sweating away at your assignments so you can get out.
Almost every form of education includes an entrance and an exit. The only way to reach the finish line is to make an attempt to learn, memorize, understand, practice, and pass. All of the student's efforts, from start to finish, will accumulate and hopefully produce a passing grade. With that triumphant diploma, certificate, degree, or other prize, the student can then graduate. They can leave. They can move on to bigger and better things. They can find jobs, earn money, and live a successful life. The education they received was a means to an end; a step in the direction of ultimate prosperity and satisfaction.
In my life right now, it's not much different. I study math because I know I will have a math test. I study English because I know I'll have to write an essay. I pay attention in my classes because I know that I'll have assignments and projects, quizzes and tests, and that exams are coming up shortly. I study to pass. I learn so I can achieve. My education is a means to an end... or more accurately... an exit from the school system.
There is one category of education, however, that is studied in a different way. Granted, it may be used like all the other categories- as a means to be released from classes- but unlike most other educational paths, when this one is pursued passionately, it is never a means to an end, but to a beginning. This is the mystery of God's word.
Through personal devos, small groups, prayer times, church services, conferences, Bible studies, Bible School, Bible College- the more we learn about it, the less we know! And the less we know, the more we want to learn!
There's something about the living Word of God that's like stargazing. The longer you look, the more stars you see. The longer you stare, the brighter they get. The longer you watch, the more awestruck you become. The less distractions around you, the less electric lights that you surround yourself with, the clearer you see the dazzling display in the sky.
His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way
toward him and find him- though he is not far away from any one of us.
This is a beautiful verse. The first time I read it, I immediately thought of a cardboard box maze. My old church used to put them on for the children around Halloween time, they were always a highlight. Inside the winding tunnels, everything was pitch black. The going was slow, but that was all part of the thrill. One had to constantly be groping around with their hands, making sure they were not running into a dead end. We were on our hands and knees, and the only way to find the way to the exit was to feel along the walls for any hidden tunnels or doors. Getting closer to the end of the maze, things would start to lighten up from the adults running things outside. Things became clearer as you would approach the finishing point.
The strange thing was, sometimes it would be the little doors that you had passed numerous times and ignored, that actually led to the exit. The thrill of seeing just a pinprick of light in the distance was always so exciting, and I would crawl faster and faster to escape the darkness and get my candy prize. Reflecting on my time in the maze, however, it was strange to think of how I could often here the laughter and talk of the grown-ups at the entrance and exit. They were so close, but I just could not find them. Of course, getting lost was 90% of the fun, but it still makes me think.
It's interesting how, when compared to every other discipline and study, knowing God is the one that, instead of rewarding us with an achievement, gives us a hunger. It makes us emptier and emptier, so that it can fill us more and more. While here on earth we study to pass, to ace, to win, to graduate, to be accepted, to earn, and to arrive, when we study the Word of God with the passion that He intended, we study to get lost.
It's the stark contrast between worldly values, and Godly values. While the world says to study until you "get there," the Holy Spirit convinces us to read and pray without ceasing, and without a deadline. While the world says to take course after course until you are "qualified," God's Word encourages us to be humble, and live lowly lives. While the world tells us to get certified so we can set our paths, the Bible tells us to surrender our goals and leave it up to God to determine our destiny.
At first glance, one of those paths sounds like success and happiness, and the other sounds like wasting life and giving up opportunity. However, the latter option is the one that completes and rewards.
On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds,
"Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink!
For the Scriptures declare, 'Rivers of living water will flow from his heart'."
I want to challenge you with this: When you next read your Bible, when you next pray to God, when you next worship Him wherever you are, don't make a deadline. Don't set a time frame. In fact, just leave your time with Him open-ended. In this society in culture, it is SO easy to treat God like we treat all our other disciplines and studies. We treat our devotions like we do our homework. We have set schedules, times, sections, passages, etc. It is all orderly and organized. That doesn't have to be a bad thing, but are you allowing the Holy Spirit freedom to move in you and through you?
Take a look at the time you spend in the presence of God, and answer honestly: Am I the boss of my devotion? Is my time spent with God self-directed and self-administered, or is He still the Master and Perfecter? Step down from being the president of your meetings, and give back to God what is His rightful place! Trust me, He'll do a better job.
Maybe next time you read, read on. Read past what your Bible Plan says, and just get LOST in His Word. Don't read to be done, read to begin! Don't pray to accomplish, pray to be overwhelmed! Don't worship according to an agenda, worship according to the Spirit's prompting!
While in other areas of life you may be studying to get out of the system...
In the area of your relationship with God, try studying to secure yourself inside His system... because a life spent in thirst for Jesus will be a life lived in accordance with His Will. Let your "heavenly schooling" be the opposite of your earthly education. Have the mindset not of one who wishes to 'graduate' and move on, but of one who wishes to completely immerse themselves! Read, seek, and learn until you cannot live without the Word of God!
Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread
alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God'."