Turning on the Lights

Familiar verses trip me up. I know that may seem odd, but that’s been the challenge of studying the Book of Job. I know my familiar, super-spiritual, get-hyped-up verse is coming, and my brain wants to phase out everything until I get to it. Yes, this verse:

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. (19:25)

Great verse, but so is everything else leading up to it. In fact, that verse makes much more sense in context of Job’s clear-sighted, death-wish suffering compared to his friends’ repent-to-riches belief system. (That’s a whole other blog post.)

And other books are the same way. I know the highlight verses, and I have to beat back the urge to rush to them so that I don’t miss the good stuff for the famous stuff.

Here’s what I’ve come up with to keep my focus on the chapter I’m in:

  1. Read an unfamiliar translation or paraphrase. Whip out the NLT or The Message, and the unfamiliarity makes your mind focus. You could even tongue-trip your way through the old KJV for some hardcore challenges. I find that reading a couple translations means more scrutiny of what I read.
  2. Pray while you read. As I’m reading, I usually stop every few verses to pray over what I’ve covered. For one thing, I often need to repent of missing the mark (okay—pretty much every time), and for another, this slows me down enough to really get the point.
  3. Journal. Basically, this is prayer on paper. At least, that’s how I see it. You just keep notes of where you trip up and what you learn.
  4. Jump on the highlight verse. That is, read the book in light of the famous verse. Ask if that verse captures the theme. At least then the elephant comes out to play instead of standing in the corner.
  5. Outline it. Okay, I don’t actually do this, but some people like to outline what they read to better understand. I don’t think that way. If it works for you, go for it.

Do you have any tips for keeping your focus on what you’re reading instead of rushing ahead?