by Hannah Stuart
Bible quizzing has had a great influence on my life. The friends I made, verses I memorized, teaching I received, and mentors who poured into me have all shaped me in significant ways that I am so thankful for.
Quizzing was a great motivator for me to read and study scripture and a great opportunity for me to discuss it with like-minded peers. Sometimes though, I must admit, when I was preparing (ok, cramming) for a practice or a meet, the living Word of God became just a bunch of words to me. Words I had to memorize as quickly and effectively as possible so that I could get a good personal average or impress my coaches or help my team. I know I’m not alone in this since I’ve heard several other quizzers express a similar struggle.
This summer I’ve been studying the book of Ephesians with a couple of friends. Last week we were discussing chapter one. Have you read it yet? You’re in for a treat. It lays out God’s incredible plan of redemption for us in Christ. He chose us before He even created the world, blessed us with every spiritual blessing, lavished His abundant grace on us, and promises us a glorious inheritance. This is all extraordinary stuff, but I’ve read through Ephesians plenty of times before and skimmed over this foundational passage, wanting to get to my favorite part in chapter 2 or the practical commands of chapters 4-6. I didn’t pay attention to these beautiful truths of God’s grace…sometimes they became just words on a page to get through. Sometimes hearing or reading scripture becomes so routine that we lose sight of how mind-blowing it truly is. As my friends and I were reading this passage and looking for themes and repeated ideas or phrases, we saw that Paul interjects “to the praise of His glory” or “to the praise of His glorious grace” three times in the first 14 verses. It’s like Paul is laying out all this doctrine about God predestining us and forgiving us and then feels the need to pause and say, “Praise God! Do you realize how amazing this is?! Do you see how glorious our God is?!”
What if we, like Paul, took moments to stop and marvel at the glory and grace of God? What if we took a breath in the middle of our quoting to pause and worship God for how He has revealed himself in His Word? How would this impact our attitude during studying? How would this impact the influence the passage has in our lives?
I want to encourage all of you who are studying Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians this year. These books are rich with truth about who God is and who we are in Him. Don’t miss that. Don’t just memorize the words, meditate on the Word. Spend time reading it before you try to memorize it. Pray through it. Try to grasp the big picture. Soak it in. Make time to wrap your mind around the glorious truths you discover, and praise God for them! Talk about what you’re learning with your teammates. Let God encourage, convict and transform you through what you learn. It may take more time and effort, but it will be so, so worth it.