What would happen if we opened the Good Book and instead of reading through a passage once, saying to ourselves, "Okay, I get it," and closing it until the next time we were so inclined to open it again we actually opened it, read through a passage and then really chewed on it by studying the meanings of the words in the passage, scrutinizing the grammar and structure of the sentences, and observing the cultural and textual contexts of the passage. We would get WAY more out of the passage than just our preconceived understanding of the text, and by doing this we would start letting the Word speak to and define us rather than the other way around. We would be reading the Bible into our lives instead of our lives into the Bible. We cheat ourselves by ignoring the fact that the Bible can only pour into us, not the other way around. When we try to pour ourselves into the Bible we lose so much life giving nourishment that we starve our very souls.
This past class we were talking about "word studies" where you decide on a word in your passage to really scrutinize and study. You look up all the possible meanings and really work out what the best meaning is in this context. You look up how the word is used in the surrounding contexts and how else the author uses the word elsewhere in The Bible. It's something you really wrestle with ad you chew and digest The Word. At first, this seems like an overwhelming task because the Bible is a very large book. However, I like what my professor encouraged us: "Find something to be an expert in." Yes, as a pastor I will have to wrestle with the entire Bible to bring people The Word, but I don't have the time or energy to become an expert on the entire Bible at once. Instead, I can find something that I want to be an expert in, and scrutinize that text in the time that I am not preparing for my sermons or making visits or counseling or doing other pastoral care things. I can build up my expertise and when I am asked to speak I can use my knowledge of that specific text to put together a talk. And once I know that text backwards and forwards I can move on to a new text and start all over again. Thus I would slowly build up my expertise in the Scriptures to bring the Word more effectively to the people. It also comforts me that my professors don't even claim to be experts on the whole Bible and talk about it as a "life long journey."
I think this method of Biblical interpretation combined with the relieving of pressure of feeling like I have the next couple of years to become an expert on the whole Bible made me feel like it was possible. I want to digest the The Sweet Word, let it transform me as it nourishes me one bite at a time, and bring it to the people as I do. This excites me. It electrifies my very being. I can't wait to start really studying, even doing my homework. I cannot remember the last time I was this excited about my homework. And then my Exegetical paper due at the end of the term, I cannot wait to get going on that! I am so excited!