Whenever I feel like a post was kind of cut off a bit, I feel the need to explain myself a bit, and give a bit of background to the overall story.
Basically, a recent occurrence in my life for the past couple of months has been a renewed effort to find out what purpose the Lord has in store for me in this life. I really have no idea, to be honest, but I’m trying to find out a lot of answers. Not just my purpose generally, but what I’m supposed to do with all this free time and resources that I have.
Well, one habit I used to hold dearly was that I would study the scriptures a lot. That hasn’t really been a focus in my life as much as it was before, for probably eight years or so. I mean, I have been reading them on a regular basis, but generally not more than anything other than a sense of obligation at times. Never anything I’d really call “studying”.
Not too long ago, though, I got a new idea for an approach I could develop towards studying. It mostly came because I was getting exasperated a bit by following the letter of the commandment (read your scriptures daily) rather than the spirit (feast upon my word). I like to mix things up now and then, and this time was no different, and I don’t doubt that this current idea will eventually fade away and I’ll be trying something new later on.
For now, though, what I do in the morning is I read the scriptures (the Book of Mormon) until I find a passage that I find interesting. It doesn’t matter how much I read, but as long as I find something that stands out — that either makes me ask a question, or consider the passage, or something I just find kinda cool. Then I write it down in my little notebook. There’s nothing cooler than going back to old notebooks, where I’ve recorded previous thoughts and questions, and seeing what I wrote years ago. It’s a lot of fun. So far though, my new method has been very effective, if not the most effective I’ve had yet. The reason I say that is because I find myself thinking about that scripture during the day or week.
One thing that I do to get myself to ask questions while reading, is I’ll look at a passage and say, “Now, why did they put *this* in there? Who cares? What does it matter? Is that important?” And that kinda stirs the mind and gets me thinking about why it would be included, what importance it could have had to the author (think of all the stuff we write in our journals that seem important to *us*, but to anyone else it would be a bunch of fluff).
As an example, I’ll use the one I found this morning. It’s in the book of Mosiah, chapter 10, verses 4 and 5. They read:
4. And I did cause that the men should till the ground, and raise all manner of grain and all manner of fruit of every kind.
5. And I did cause that the women should spin, and toil, and work, and work all manner of fine linen, yea, and cloth of every kind, that we might clothe our nakedness; and thus we did prosper in the land–thus we did have continual peace in the land for the space of twenty and two years.
Now, aside from the comment about continual peace, there’s not really anything of substance there on first glance, it would normally seem like to me.
However, this time when reading it, verse four caught my mind, and I thought it was interesting how he said “all manner of fruit.” When I was thinking about it later during the day, I realized that it may stand as a bit of a description of how their culture was advanced and organized that they could have not only the technology to raise all different kinds of fruit, but the agronomy and sciences to do so. Like, for instance, grapes grow differently from bananas, and they are not the same as pineapples, apples, oranges and peaches. It would take some skill and organization to be able to handle *all* manner of fruit. I dunno. I just find it interesting. The same thing with the cloths as well … the different types have to indicate that there were artisans trained in different skills. Anyway. Interesting.
So, that approach of study is working for me well so far. I’m having fun with it.
Going back to my earlier point, though, and with my recent discoveries, I’m remembering how much I enjoy studying the scriptures.
When I served my mission in Argentina, I studied them voraciously during all my free time. Early on, I had the goal to finish reading the entire standard works. Every free moment I had, I would read, and I got through it rather quickly. Once I was done with that, I colored all my verses with a coloring scheme I had developed, and marked up my scriptures quite a bit. I still have that set today, and it’s great to reference them, because I can flip open my books to almost any chapter in any book and find something I’ve highlighted.
I’m a bit of a perfectionist though, or more accurately, fixated on progression and refining my processes. My original approach to highlighting verses was to do it on a dialogue basis, which works well for the Book of Mormon or the Gospels where there are a *lot* of conversations, but that doesn’t apply to every other book. So, I’m taking it much slower this time around and I’m trying to categorize each book and see how I can distinguish it as to what a good markup scheme would be. Doing that entails reading through the book first and getting a feel for what the common themes and topics are … something that gets pretty frustrating at times, because I’m so eager to start marking things up. In fact, I’m already planning on doing a third refinement of my approach that I’ve done with Isaiah (the first book I’ve looked at, yet), because I couldn’t wait started using colors before thinking it all through.
It’s fun, though. But really, I’m glad to have found something I can do with some of my time. Some of the happiest moments in my life so far have been me hunched over a little desk in 25 de Mayo or Neuquen or Esquel, trying to understand the scriptures. I’m not nearly at the same level as I was before, but I’m having a fun time trying to get there. Good times. I tell you what.