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08 June 2016

Scripture: Color and Sort

Brother Bednar gave a talk, A Reservoir of Living Water, that I go back to over and over. I have learned tons from this talk, and I have no doubt that I will learn more from it in the future. In the talk, Brother Bednar explains several ways of studying the scriptures:

I now want to review with you three basic ways or methods of obtaining living water from the scriptural reservoir: (1) reading the scriptures from beginning to end, (2) studying the scriptures by topic, and (3) searching the scriptures for connections, patterns, and themes. Each of these approaches can help satisfy our spiritual thirst if we invite the companionship and assistance of the Holy Ghost as we read, study, and search.

He spends some time explaining each of these types of scripture study, and as part of the explanation of searching for connections, patterns, and themes, he shares this: 

If you promise not to laugh, I will tell you about one of the simple ways I search for scriptural themes. I do not advocate or recommend that you use the same approach; different people use different methods with equal effectiveness. I am simply describing a process that works well for me.

He then describes how he studied the spirit and purposes of gathering. First, he created a list of all the verses that use the word gather, then marked similar verses with the same color, cut apart his verses in order to sort them into piles by color, then into smaller sets within that. 

I confess, I did smile when he described the process. 

Then I tried it out. 

This is an intense type of study! I've been pondering what humility is, in the scriptural sense, for quite some time, so I made that my topic. Turns out the scriptures have tons to say about humility. To make a list of all the related verses, I went to LDS.org and searched for both humble and humility and copied the results into my word processor. Even after I reformatted things to get the most possible onto my page, there were still pages and pages of verses. Many more than I was expecting. So I got out my scripture crayons and started trying to group the verses that are similar by color. 

It's harder than it sounds, actually. Some are pretty easy to pick out: there are verses that deal with the blessings of humility, and verses that deal with the consequences that arise from a lack of humility. But a surprising number are tricky to categorize, and the process is a slow process with plenty of stops to ponder what the verses are saying and how they ought to be grouped. 

As I was going along, I noticed that there's a list -which will clearly be a relatively large list- of actions that are associated with being humble: things humble people do. I've started putting these things into a list in my scripture journal. 

But, in addition to making my list (it'll make a great scripture chain when I'm done), I kept coloring. And it kept being challenging. I changed the color of some verses, added a few more colors to my options, and gradually got more of my verses colored, though some of them continue to be tough to categorize. I think that the students listening to Brother Bednar might have been less inclined to chuckle at him, had they realized the amount of work he was describing! I work on my Psalms study projects probably once or twice each week, as time allows for a deeper dive into the scriptures, and this project is taking quite a few sessions! Happily, it's a type of project that waits its turn nicely. 

At this point, I decided that white is a color, and it might be easier to sort the remaining verses if I could get all the uncolored ones together, and go through just those.   

So I found some scissors and started cutting. Right away, I realized that it would be easier to work with these if they weren't so long and skinny: next time I'll set up some columns on my page. It's quite the pile of skinny little papers. 

One of the interesting things is how much I have learned already, even though the project is far from complete. I've learned several things that humility is not -- notably, humility is not an excuse for beating ourselves up. It's not even really about our lowness or unworthiness in relation to the highness of God's perfection. That isn't one of the themes that I'm finding and coloring as I do this project. Satan always has a counterfeit, to distract us from the real thing, and to injure us when we're expecting growth. Self-devaluing is a counterfeit, and will harm us, where genuine humility will lift us toward our potential as sons and daughters of the Most High. 

I'm not finished with the project, yet, but I have learned a whole bunch already, and the project got somewhat derailed, and sat and waited for several months, so I thought that I'd share what I've discovered already from this method of study. 

Have fun coloring! 

1 comment:

Anne Chovies said...

What a colorful project! Lots to learn!


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