Three such measures are fluency, flexibility and originality. If I were to ask you to make a list of all the words that come to mind when I suggest the word “water” to you (if you’d like, go ahead and give it a shot before proceeding), you might list things such as: lake, river, ocean, lemonade, iced tea, ice, refreshing, cold, wet, flowing, rain, floods, destruction, thirst, life and float.
The number of items in your list would speak to your capacity for fluency. Some of us might struggle to come up with 25, others might easily come up with 100 or more.
The number of categories in the list such as bodies of water (e.g. lake, ocean), drinks (e.g. lemonade, iced tea), and effects (e.g. refreshing, cold), speak to flexibility.
An example of “originality” might include a word in the list such as “blast” where the thought related to “blast” might be using water to blast a hillside with a powerful stream of water to break up the ground to enable a search for gold (e.g. panning for gold) or other precious metals.
With some 10,000 hours of Bible study under my belt since becoming a disciple of Jesus, one of my great joys is mentoring men in their walks with Him. Not too long ago, a passionate seeker of the Big Guy asked to spend some time with me so we could discuss ways to read and study the Good Book.
We met at a coffee shop
He began the conversation asking me to share with him about all the various tools and reference materials that might assist him in his study. Being a cemetery…I mean seminary…graduate, I’m quite familiar with many theological tools and methods that scholars use to examine and parse the Scripture. These tools, including theological dictionaries, concordances, study guides, commentaries, expository dictionaries, Greek and Hebrew language tools and the like are quite useful for the study of background, historical context and the like that will enrich the understanding of the serious seeker who has the time, energy, commitment and interest in growing in their knowledge of the Word.
Case in point:
I had a roommate when I was in seminary who spent devotional time every day reading his Greek New Testament. One day he came to me giddy with excitement about something he noticed. It had to do with the phrase “…your will be done…” which Jesus utters in the garden of Gethsemane while sweating drops of blood in prayer just before his crucifixion. David noticed through his study of Greek word construction, that the phrase is the same phrase that Jesus uses when he is teaching His disciples to pray near the very beginning of his ministry in “The Lord’s Prayer.”
OK. I have to admit, that was pretty inspiring to me and I truly appreciated how David’s commitment to his Greek studies was paying off in his personal walk with the Big Guy. However, though I did make it through seminary and a year of Greek language study, and while I do have and use many tools at times to aid me in the study of the Good Book, I generally take a much simpler approach.
A more "devotional" approach
I started acknowledging specific ways I felt God was blessing me. I thought about others who were a blessing to me in my life and began thanking God for them. I thought about ways (fluency) I could be more of a blessing to others including my wife, my kids, my friends and others (flexibility). All of this just took a few minutes, but was deeply encouraging and motivating to me. "Originality" in this case was the Big Guy making me feel like it was the first time I had ever read the verse and helping me to apply it in practical ways. It had nothing to do with the historical context of what was going on in Ephesus at the time. It was simply about me opening my heart to the Word and letting the Big Guy speak to and encourage me.
Since expectation is a breeding ground for miracles, be expectant as you read. Ask Him to touch you deeply. Be thirsty for Him. Practice fluency, flexibility and originality with the words you read. Use the gift of your mind and the capacity you have to think creatively. Make room for Him to speak to you.