Dyslexia and the Bible

Thursdays feature guest bloggers. Today’s post is by Eddie Ferguson. Eddie is the Pastor of Missions and Outreach at Bethesda Baptist Church (Brownsburg, IN). Follow him on Twitter here.

“Did you know that I am a behavioral psychologist?” These were the first English words I ever heard my teacher speak to me. I had been in an immersive Spanish language school for over six months when after an oral quiz my teacher asked me this question. “No” I replied with a mixture of shock and confusion in my voice. My teacher proceeded to inform me that after several months of observing me and how I was learning Spanish that she had diagnosed me with dyslexia. She was curious if I had ever received that diagnoses before, to which I responded with another shocked and confused “no.”

In fact, as she began to explain the way my brain processed information and how we would begin to adjust my learning to better grasp Spanish, my past educational woes began to make sense. While I struggle with a very minimal level of dyslexia, the adjustments she made to my learning made a radical difference in my comprehension. I have been blessed with some incredible teachers in my journey through Spanish and as I have learned the language through these difficulties the learning process has spilled over into every area of my life. The most important area is my study and learning of Scripture.

Most of my life I have heard the basics of Christian life to be prayer and the reading of your Bible. However, rarely are either of these unpacked so that different Christ followers can apply them into their lives. Even when they are unpacked they often come across as one size fits all or cookie cutter methods to get more out of Scripture. All the while, Hebrews 4 tells us that the Word of God is “active.” I often struggled to see the active side of Scripture as it always appeared flat on the page. That all changed when I was enlightened to my need to engage all areas of language in my study. In order for me to learn Spanish I needed to learn the concept or vocabulary in multiple areas before my brain would register it, and so it is in my study of Scripture.

Language is used in four primary areas; writing, listening, speaking, and reading. In order to best comprehend and retain you must master language in these four areas. I discovered that I need to learn language in all four areas, almost at the same time, in order to best retain the information. The first area was listening, and is the most common way of gaining language. However, I struggle to retain by just hearing something that is why I write frantic notes as I am listening. This allows me to engage the writing areas of language and better learn what I am hearing. The area of language we all want to master quickly is speaking, but it can be difficult without a firm grasp on grammar and rich vocabulary. This is where reading comes into play. Reading gives you a rich vocabulary all the while allowing you to see repeated grammar and sentence structure. If you read a lot in your new language, while taking notes or even reading aloud, it will allow you to engage the language more deeply.

That day my teacher spoke to me in English for the first time was a day that set me on an incredible learning journey. Since that day I have tried and experimented with ways of engaging multiple areas of language while I study. The most important area is my study of Scripture. Often I find myself listening to an audio Bible, writing out a passage over and over on paper, walking through my house reading Scripture aloud, or even reading the same book of the Bible every day for a month. The thing that I have found most helpful is using all of those methods at the same time. I love to journal my prayers, write it out as if I am writing a letter to God. Conversations with God, out loud, have become a regular part of prayer life while I am driving by myself. People may think I am crazy, but I am able to communion with my Creator more deeply that way. Recently, I have found a great amount of blessing in reading the prayers of saints who’ve gone before me. The Puritans had a way of praying and writing them down, that move the fibers of my soul to see Jesus more clearly.

There are so many ways to engage our minds in the reading of Scripture and prayer. David wrote in the 139th Psalm that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” He understood the personality and mind that God created him with, and as you read through the Psalms you can see him engaging the Lord with that mind and with that personality. The writer of Hebrews doesn’t simply say that God’s Word is ‘active,” there in chapter 4 verse 12 it says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” That verse shows us the full spectrum of impact that Scripture should have on our lives. Why then do we so often feel like our reading of scripture is dead and lazy, rather than living and active. While there are many answers to that question, most of which I am not exploring here, there are two that we must understand. First, we must truly walk by the Holy Spirit. Secondly, it must be OUR walk with the Holy Spirit.

Since we are each “fearfully and wonderfully made” we must understand the personality and mind that God created us with. It is with that personality and that mind we should pray. And it is with that personality and that mind that we should study His Word. Find the ways best suited for you to understand and interact with Scripture. Discover how you can pray with God in a manner that is truly open and glorifying. It took me a journey through another language to understand the best avenues of my brain to walk down with God. Maybe you should take some time to discover those for yourself? He has made you to be who you are, and His Word speaks directly to that person. God wants to talk with you, stop borrowing and using someone else’s brain to study the Bible or to pray. Discover for yourself how you interact with God and His Word!

Question: What Bible study tools have helped you the most? Answer in the comments!