It’s time to take a deep breath. You’re embarking on an adventure that we hope will enrich, enhance and enliven your walk with Christ. And like any adventure, you may never feel properly prepared. God is like that, a God of surprises, often catching you unawares and always inviting you deeper into relationship.
This is meant to reassure you, rather than frighten you. Because there’s nothing so exciting as putting yourself in the way of God and welcoming God in. And one of the ways to do this is through theological study and reflection. It’s a chance to dwell with God and with your fellow disciples, to become more fully what God calls you to be, and to grow in Christ’s likeness.
To help with that, our experience is that if you are new to study or are coming back to it after a long time it’s helpful to think through the best way to organise your study life. If you already have plenty of expertise in study skills and feel confident then this section is not meant to patronise you or to give you one more thing to worry about - feel free to skip this section if that is the case. We invite you to view it as an exercise in acquainting (or re-acquainting) yourself with the tools needed for this context and empowering you to do your best in the coming weeks and months.
Like an explorer about to head off on a trip to some far-flung corner of the world, you are likely to find it helpful to have confidence in your ability to go the distance. So view the next three hours of work as a toolkit, giving you what you need to enjoy theological study, to set it within the context of your worshipping life, and to seek God’s love and justice for this world.
Be still, for the presence of the Lord
Take a few moments to still yourself. Perhaps you’d like to light a candle or look at an icon, if you have one, or simply sit quietly with your eyes closed and take in the sounds around you.
Dwell in this space as a gift of God, relish its tranquillity; listen for God’s still small voice of calm. As you breathe in, ask God’s Spirit to fill you, to empower you and build you up. As you breathe out, invite God to take away your burdens, to ease your troubles and to remake you in God’s own image.
Whenever you begin a period of study, try to put some time aside for an exercise like this – perhaps shaped by some of the suggested worship materials in the ‘Worship’ section. Be still, and the Lord will come to you. In our experience, theological study makes a lot more sense when you ask God to be alongside you in your endeavours because thinking about God is best done in dialogue with God.