Friday, April 5, 2013

To See Whether These Things Were So

I have a lot of respect for Helene and Jane.  I love the way they both spend time listening to God's word or to other "pure and lovely" things.  Jane listens to the Bible while massaging her son.  Helene listens to biographies of giants in the faith while washing dishes.  Because it has been so helpful for them, I tried listening to a "whatsoever" book the other day while doing housework.  After all, I listen to talk radio from time to time, why not listen to something a little more uplifting?  

It was a dismal failure.  Oh, I heard the words, but I didn't really soak it in.  I had the print version of the book on my Kindle, and when I went back to read the words, I realized how much I missed.  I could blame in on interruptions from my kids, but the truth is, I am just not an auditory learner.  I can be engaged by listening to something like talk radio, but I don't retain anything.  For that, I have to see the words.  Even in school, I was a copious note taker.  The act of writing the words of the lecture down and being able to study them later got me through school, not listening to the teacher.  

When I realized that listening to the Bible or some other book would not work for me, I was first relieved; then I was uncomfortable.  I was relieved because I didn't feel the need to keep trying to make something work that my brain is not wired for.  Then I thought about Sunday mornings, and I started to squirm.  What do I do during the lessons on Sunday?  I listen.  That's all.  I frantically tried to remember what last Sunday's Bible class lesson or sermon was about.  Comfort?  I think?  That's all I've got.  I can't remember a single Scripture reference.

But, I've got three kids to corral; that excuses me from taking notes during the lesson and sermon, right?  I don't think so.  Usually another family takes the baby.  My oldest is pretty good during worship and doesn't take much corralling.  Even my son has good weeks if he has a Bible story book to look at.  And they are in their own class during the lesson, goober!  Honestly, I haven't even tried to learn from what I hear on the first day of the week.  I have only worked to listen. Sometimes, even that is a struggle.  I'm not beating myself up for not hearing every lesson while dealing with a squirmy, chatty boy.  I am taking a good look at whether I am doing as much as I can to learn.  I'd have to say I'm not.

The Bible has something to say about how we listen to preachers and teachers. When Paul came to the city of Berea, he was impressed with the people there.  "Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11).  These people didn't just listen to what Paul had to say.  They learned.  They even studied what they had heard to make sure it was right.    I've disagreed with the preacher, but rarely have I prayerfully studied the Bible to decide for myself.  I've heard lots of preachers say they don't want to be taken at their word.  They want us to study too.  It's time for me to do that.

It's time for me to treat Sunday lessons as seriously as I treated my lessons in school.  It's time for me to take notes, study them later, and "see if these things are so."  I'd like your help.  Do any of you have a system for notetaking on Sundays?  Do you just write down the Scripture references?  Do you outline? Do you try to write every word?  How do you study it when you get home?  

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