I have been a teacher in some capacity for a little over 20 years. I feel that in order to be a good teacher it is important to be an excellent learner. So, I have worked diligently at the process of learning how to learn.
Without getting to deep into “teacher lingo” I can tell you that one of the best ways that I learn anything is by immersing myself into the topic, skill, or subject that I am interested in knowing more about. I read books, listen to podcasts, talk to people who know more than me, and follow blogs. When I’m in the middle of this process it almost feels like I’m drowning in information, but what I think is actually happening is an assimilation of new information into my already established thoughts and ideas.
Through this some new ideas are accepted and acted on while some are rejected and ultimately forgotten. I don’t want to put too much of a spiritual spin on something that is mostly academic, but I have noticed that I have a similar way of approaching my understanding of God.
I will go through periods when I am reading different passages of the Bible, asking God lots of questions, listening for his answers, and reading/listening to trusted sources of spiritual wisdom. This can be overwhelming and exciting at the same time. And through this process I find new information that helps me to grow in my knowledge and relationship with God.
How do I know what information to walk away from and ultimately forget? Here’s a few things I try to remember when I’m wrestling with new ideas about who God is and how he relates to us.
- Is it in harmony with what the Bible says?
- Is it in harmony with what I know to be true about God? Not what I want to be true… big difference!
- I very often will use the James 3:17 test for wisdom. Is it pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere?
- If I still don’t have a clear answer, I ask and listen.
The big difference in flooding myself with an interesting academic subject and immersing myself in the things of God is how I feel the overwhelm. When studying human psychology I begin to feel a little bit of dizziness in my brain. When I delve into the study of God’s relationship to humans and me in particular it overwhelms my spirit and sometimes my emotions. There comes a point where I feel that I can hardly breathe with the weight of my own limited view of God.
I can’t help but think that all of this searching and thinking will be useless if I don’t talk that final step. I have to assimilate any new ideas that I learn about who God is and who he has created me to be. It may be the most important part of the process to allow God to use this time to change my heart into what he wants it to be.