Last month I followed a link from Tim Challies to an article in which the author described how he will choose a book of the Bible and read it and read it and read it again over the course of a couple months. He was saying it is a wonderful way to really understand and be changed by the Bible.
That made particular sense to me, because at that time I was studying half a dozen of Shakespeare’s sonnets. I read them and read them and read them again over the course of a week and I could see that repeated readings could bring new insights.
And of course I wasn’t just skimming my eyes over the sonnets while my mind was relaxing on a comfy sofa somewhere. I was actively looking for rhyme and rhythm and other literary techniques. I was studying. So it makes sense that it would be the same when following this idea of immersing oneself in a book of the Bible. It would take an engaged brain to notice themes and keywords and gain a better understanding of the book.
It’s a case of paying attention. Of noticing the details. Of digging deeper.
I know it works with Shakespeare. I’m willing to believe it works with the Bible too!
And then there’s something else….
In Crazy Busy, Kevin DeYoung asks (and I’m quoting from memory here, but I think I’ve got it right), “How many moments of pain are wasted because we never sat still enough to learn from them?”
And Caroline Weber, in the context of writing a spiritual memoir, has this to say:
1. Pay attention to your life
You just can’t make this stuff up! As Frederick Buechner proclaims, “Pay attention. As a summation of all that I have had to say as a writer, I would settle for that.” I think this is particularly true for a memoirist. journal like crazy, record details, look for the story. We often only recognize the importance of details, as C. S. Lewis once said, in retrospect. Paying attention to God’s handiwork in our lives allows for the details to unfold in wonder and significance as you notice them, meditate upon them, or begin to string them together.
I’ve jumped topics here, I know. But there is a connection!
Life goes by so quickly. So many words have passed my eyes this week alone, whether on the page or on the internet, whether skimmed or read with care. So many interactions with other people, so many conversations of varying degrees of importance. How many thoughts have journeyed through my mind this week? I really don’t know, but I’ll hazard a guess there were a lot.
I won’t remember a lot of what I’ve thought about this week. I’ll forget a lot of what I heard and a lot of what I saw.
But some of it should be remembered. Some things deserve a little more attention. Some events should be reflected on, remembered, learned from, treasured. So should some words, whether spoken or written.
I read someone say somewhere (case in point of too much information!) that attention is the most valuable commodity in this day and age. I think that was in reference to our interactions with other people, and that’s certainly true. But it’s also true that we should pay attention to the Word. That we should, as DeYoung and Weber highlight, pay attention to what’s going on in our lives.
I’m an expert at skimming the surface, whether it’s a book or the Bible or the events of my life. And sometimes skimming the surface is all that is necessary or all that is possible. But I’d like to have more of an eye for detail, I’d like mental muscles that can dig deeper, and I’d like more of a habit of reflection.
And I think that this habit of reflection and attention and an eye for detail, whether it’s studying a sonnet or reading the Bible or paying attention to one’s life, yields riches that would otherwise be passed by.