by David Mathis
You won’t appreciate the fact that you took a deep breath an hour ago unless you’re still breathing. A great meal you ate a month ago won’t do you much good if you haven’t eaten since. Likewise, delighting in God through taking in his word isn’t an annual, monthly, or even weekly event for the healthy Christian, but a daily rhythm.
Keeping Your Soul Alive
There is more to seminary, and the whole of the Christian life, than the necessity of pursuing daily soul survival in the Scriptures, but this need must not be overlooked. An otherwise impressive theology degree is utterly unimpressive if your soul has shriveled in the course of study.
As Christians, daily Bible intake is to our souls what breathing, eating, and drinking are to our physical bodies. As the incarnate Word himself says, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, “…man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.” (Matt. 4:4). Our souls will die without the word of God….
Make Your Studies Devotional
First, seek to make your seminary studies devotional. Pray for God’s help before class, before studying, before writing a paper or taking a test, and during all these activities. Continually consecrate your studies to Jesus and ask him to freshly meet you in them, keep your spiritual blood flowing, and keep you soft to his grace.
It is important for every Christian, and perhaps especially for seminary students, to never come to the Scriptures with anything less than a devotional approach. Whatever the assignment, intentionally seek the growth and warming of your soul. There’s no spiritually neutral gear when handling the Bible. You don’t need to learn the lesson far too many have experienced about trifling with holy things—you either survive or shrivel.
Keep Space for Daily Devotionals
Second, set aside at least a brief season daily to focus on feeding your soul. Find a good patch in the Scriptures (maybe through an annual Bible-reading plan), one you’re not studying in preparation for a class, a test, or a sermon, and graze a while, just for your spiritual well-being. Crumbs from such a meal will inevitably bless those to whom you minister, but try not to make your future flock (or present ministry) your explicit focus in this feeding. The aim is the daily strengthening and sustaining of your soul.
An often-helpful reminder to seminary students is to not read merely for information. Such information, glorious as it is, won’t keep your heart soft and your soul breathing. What we desperately need is spiritual sight of the living Christ. We need the person of Jesus himself, whom we find in and through the Scriptures. Our souls long for a living connection with the living God-man. We were made for this.