You see the flower when you approach it on the trail. You stop to look at it because it caught your attention. But if you don't observe the flower's details and surroundings, you'll probably forget about it or only remember a shadow of it tomorrow.
Do you consider yourself to be an observant person? If so, consider the following:
- How many steps do you take between your bedroom and the bathroom?
- How much did you pay for your last tank of gas?
- What did your spouse/roommate/friend wear yesterday?
- Are your parents right-handed or left-handed?
- What color eyes did your last waiter have?
I realized during this morning's sermon how much I miss when I passively see something and don't take the time or energy to observe it. Chuck is doing a mini-series called Pursuing the Treasures of the Scriptures, and today was all about observation. He defined observation as "to inspect or take note; to watch carefully with attention to detail." He challenged us to look at verses in context ("Never isolate a verse - isolated verses lead to error.") and gave us some tips on how to actively read the Bible.
One of the tips that hit home with me was to read the Bible as if it were a love letter. For example, when you receive a love letter, everything in it is significant. How was it addressed (dear, my love, my darling, etc.)? Is it the same as the last letter or different? Is the letter long? Short? Is it focused on feelings or events?
When you receive a love letter, it is good to read it aloud so you can hear the voice of the author. Words take on new meaning when you read them aloud.
With a love letter, you read and re-read...and re-read it. Your heart is full and with each reading, your affection grows.
What if we read the Bible that way? What if we carefully observed it - each piece? How is this part different from that part? What are the common themes?
What if we read it aloud to ourselves or each other? When you read something aloud, especially to someone else, you can't skip over words or phrases because the passage won't make sense! Reading aloud can help convey feeling or emotion when read with inflection.
What if we read and re-read passages? What if we took the time to cross reference? Check out a map of where the events take place? What if we researched the culture to get a better understanding of the historical and cultural context?
How much more would these passages mean to us and how much easier would it be to commit them to memory?
Oh, that we would observe the Bible as we read it.