As I mentioned in a past post, we’ve been reading Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline. This is a Christian classic. We’re reading through it together in our Sunday service. We’ll often go through a book together on Sundays. We take turns reading and stop to discuss the material. It really helps to do it this way because you gain different perspectives on the material that helps open up ideas that you never would have had reading it on your own.

Last Sunday we read from the chapter on study. Foster brilliantly presents compelling reasons to study. Even though I’ve heard these truths for many years, they have freshness and power. He presents four “steps” of study:

Repetition – “Repetition regularly channels the mind in a specific direction, thus ingraining habits of thought.”

Concentration – “Concentration centers the mind. It focuses the attention on what is being studied.”

Comprehension – “All of us have had the experience of reading something over and over and then, all of sudden, we understand what it means. This ‘eureka’ experience of understanding catapults us onto a new level of growth and freedom.”

Reflection – “…reflection defines the significance of what we are studying…In reflection we come to understand not only our subject matter, but ourselves.”

He then goes on to state, “It soon becomes obvious that study demands humility. Study simply cannot happen until we are willing to be subject to the subject matter.”

A Christian leader I knew years ago used to say that the mind is kind of like a candle. When you go to light it you have to hold the flame to the wick for some time until the wax melts and it finally catches. In the same way, we need to hold truth to our minds until it “catches”.

Speaking for myself, I haven’t tended to understand the truth or what God is saying until a lengthy process of repetition, concentration, and (often) failure transpired. I have a thick coat of wax. This is where community really shines. By living in such close proximity to one another, and having our lives so intertwined, the truth has many opportunities to stay focussed on my heart and mind until it can finally penetrate my thickness and catch me on fire.

“Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.” – Amy Carmichael