When I lived in Alaska, my friends and I went on several 30-mile treks. There was one trek where we hiked the first ten miles and went to sleep that night to expansive mountain views as far as the eye could see. We woke up the next morning after a cold night on a hard floor to a completely opaque cloud cover. We couldn’t see three feet in front of us. We wandered the Alaskan wilderness searching for trail cairns to take us to the next point on the bald faces of the mountainside. The rain wasn’t as much falling, as we were walking IN it. We decided to finish the hike a day early and with our soaked-through waterproof boots we traversed 20 miles through a wet cloud. We saw the boggy ground. We saw the great dark shapes slowly take form on the horizon as we went up and down, up and down, up and down. We bonded over trying to make sense of where we were on the elevation map. We felt joy in the accomplishment and relief when we made it to our cars and subsequently, pizza on the other side. We finished the journey, but we missed what we came to see.

On the last weekend of the summer, we took on the Kesugi Ridge trail in Denali State Park. Denali, the famed highest peak in North America, is seen only 30% of the time. You never know how clear your weather will be, but there’s always the hope it will be clear enough to see. That weekend we hiked the first ten miles up Kesugi Ridge and set up camp opposing the crystal-clear Alaskan sunset over the snowy, awe-inspiring mountain towering over the entire Alaska Range in the distance. We hydrated our hot meals and couldn’t believe the glory of God revealed before our eyes. We could see what God had made and it turned our eyes and hearts to Him.

In a similar way, when we don’t study theology, we might complete the journey we set out on. We might even love what we see of God through the misty ups and downs of life. But what we see on the clouded journey is nowhere near the satisfaction we COULD experience with the rich and beautiful full picture of who He is.

So, what is it that we’re missing out on if we don’t pursue the study of theology?

Women Theologians Uniquely Reflect God’s Image and Glory

Both men and women are made in the image of God and as such we uniquely reflect Him. When women fail to study theology, we miss out on an important perspective. Jesus treated women radically in his time and specifically loved them and included them, treating them with dignity in areas where no one else would. There have always been women theologians. Jesus sets the example as He invited women to learn from Him (Luke 10:39). For any young women out there wondering if they have a place at the feet of Jesus to learn about Him, please know the answer is yes. The truth is, all believers are called into ministry. The only question is where and in what context, so a desire to grow in being equipped for that is a worthy pursuit. Not everyone can drop everything and go to seminary, though there are free seminary courses you can listen to online. There are also endless resources for theologically focused Bible studies to study on your own or in a group. Check the enCourage resources page for recommendations or talk to your local ministry leaders for their thoughts. Finally, the Made for More conference coming later this year to your region is going to be a life-giving time to hear and share thoughts on who God is and who we are in light of that.

Studying Theology is Enjoyable

We are never more satisfied in this world than when we are worshiping God. What leads us to worship Him more than learning different attributes of who He is? Learning a theological framework and watching the different pieces of Scripture fall into place as it points to the cross of Christ leads us to inexpressible joy in awe of Him. Instead of letting knowledge puff us up, we come to the Word of God humbly and joyfully while on our knees in prayer and expectant that the Holy Spirit’s work will not come back void.

This is the Way You Shine His Light

We reflect the glory of God, not as the sun with a light of our own, but as the moon reflects the light of the sun. We reflect His light by studying His word. When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai, his face was shining with a blinding light because he had been in the presence of God (Ex. 34:29). Isaiah 60 describes the restoration of Israel, of perfect communion with God when He heals all brokenness, as the light of God shines upon us. Jesus is the light that has come and now, “we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” (2 Cor. 3:18) As He transforms us, we grow in wisdom and knowledge, and we shine like the brightness of the sky above. A city on a hill cannot be hidden and a lamp belongs on a stand. Let your light shine as you draw near to Him.

Build Your House on the Rock

Finally, studying theology and knowing what you believe about God is the way to endure hardship and trials. When you don’t know the Word of God, including the context, the historicity, and how everything makes sense and fits together, it’s easy for someone to challenge you and dissuade you from your beliefs. It’s not wrong to have questions about your faith or the Bible. If you spend time learning and seeking God and finding answers to your questions, it’s akin to building your house on the rock. Like anyone else, I’ve had to walk through deep suffering and sadness. Some of those times have been long seasons of suffering. When I read the Bible, I see God’s people also endured suffering and God Himself met them in their sorrow with unfailing faithfulness.  This encourages and equips my heart to trust God even when I don’t know why I am suffering or even when it will end. God’s Word gives me confidence in my future hope in eternity. It is a rock that anchors me when the winds of life blow.

Friends, theology is important for all of us. May we delight to encounter Him in the Word, seeing Him as He is.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Julianne Atkinson

Julianne is a stay at home mom to two fun boys and former youth ministry staff at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in San Antonio. After attending Covenant College, she worked at several non-profit ministries and followed her husband of ten years around the country for work. He has finally ended up in San Antonio as a staff surgeon in the oral and maxillofacial surgical residency at Fort Sam Houston. They love backpacking and exploring God’s creation, board gaming, jigsaw puzzles, and their two fluffy cats they rescued in Philadelphia.