Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Our Scripture Study

My husband and I felt something was missing in our scripture study. When our children were at home, my husband read from the scriptures after dinner while we cleaned up the kitchen. The children welcomed the company and enjoyed having something to listen to while they did the dishes. We stopped frequently to explain what words meant and to summarize or rephrase sections. My husband might even insert a child’s name in the scripture. Amid protests of, “Dad, it doesn’t say that!”, he’d finally admit, “maybe it didn’t, but it could have.”  Sometimes, we shared an experience from our lives which related to the scripture, and often, they shared experiences with us, usually from school. As parents, we had the clear goal of trying to help our children relate the scriptures to their lives.

Now that our children are grown and have homes of their own, my husband and I continue to study the scriptures. We follow the Church’s course of scripture study for the year and attend our Sunday School classes where we appreciate the teacher’s insights. We read the small course guide which contains the reading assignments. We also read the footnotes in the LDS edition of the scriptures, from the Bible dictionary, and articles which coordinate with our scripture study from the Ensign, occasionally sharing some thoughts from our study with each other. Though we learned a lot, we still felt that something was missing.

This year we tried something new– we decided to order the Seminary manuals from the Church Distribution Center to accompany our study of the Old Testament. With both my husband and I being converts, we  never had the opportunity to attend seminary.  So, deciding to find out what we had missed, we began our study. Since our time was limited, we still read the scriptures separately. Because I have more time for study, I read the manual, marking key ideas to share later with my husband.

Our problem was finding a time to discuss the scriptures and manual material together. We experimented with trying to study right after dinner, but often I was too tired, or we had pressing things to do. After several months of sporadic study, we finally realized that sharing short passages from the scriptures and highlights from the manual, worked well during breakfast. I can even read to my husband while he gets ready for work. This way we don’t have to make time; we just use some of the time we already have together to study the scriptures. Having a dependable time for our scripture study is a great help.

Studying with a partner also helps. It has encouraged us both to keep up our study knowing that our partner is depending on us to share our insights, questions, and experiences. If we fall behind, we catch up on Sundays. Now, each day, we  look forward to having meaningful gospel discussions, and we are seeing how spending time together sharing spiritual things is bringing us closer as a couple.
Using the Seminary manuals in our scripture study guides our discussions and helps us gain needed focus and depth. These manuals are allowing us to quickly benefit from all the years of gospel study of Church leaders and other scriptural scholars.  Our understanding of the scriptures also is increasing as we are able to put the scriptures into an historical and cultural perspective.

This clearer focus in our study is helping us achieve a greater appreciation of the Lord’s patience and love for us. We have purpose once again. As we read, we look for our Savior’s love and guidance as He helps His people progress. Following the successes and failures of our Israelite ancestors, we try to learn from them and relate their experiences to our lives. For instance, it was a great temptation for the people to forget the Lord’s commandments and try to be like the people around them,
consequently, they were often involved in idiolatry. Though we don’t worship gods of stone and wood, we might have gods of metal and plastic. Could spending each evening in front of a big screen TV be the same? How about the way we dress and spend our time? Do we have the integrity of Daniel? Are there things we need to improve in our lives to become more like Christ?

Studying with a partner, having a consistent time, using the Church’s study helps, and having a definite purpose in our reading is finally giving us the depth we were missing in our scripture study. It feels good to again be enjoying the unity and spiritual growth which comes through meaningful study of the scriptures. After such a positive experience, we are now looking forward to studying the New Testament together this coming year.

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