I’ve started to feel lately like my scripture study was kind of like running on a treadmill or hamster wheel . . . going nowhere.
After looking around for ways to improve my scripture study, I found a few things that made me hopeful. Scripture journaling seems exciting but I feel incredible pressure to draw amazing pictures so I’ve avoided that a bit. I even found a printable set of scriptures that allow you to print full size pages with massive margins – Holy note-taking, Batman!
And then . . . I read the following post by Henry B Eyring (a member of the Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints).
“When I came into the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Richard G. Scott suggested I buy an inexpensive set of scriptures and mark the insights and revelations I would gain in my new calling. So I did. But I went a little further.
I asked Heavenly Father what He would have me do as an Apostle. I wrote down what I felt His answers were. I typed, color coded, and pasted those answers in the front of my scriptures.
For example, the first one was “I am to be a witness that Christ is the Son of God.” Then I read my scriptures looking for ideas that taught me how to witness that Christ is the Son of God. Every time I came to something, I marked it in blue. Soon I developed my own topical guide around what I thought the Lord wanted me to do. I have learned much through this process.
Going to the scriptures to learn what to do makes all the difference. The Lord can teach us. When we come to a crisis in our life, such as losing a child or spouse, we should go looking in the scriptures for specific help. We will find answers in the scriptures. The Lord seemed to anticipate all of our problems and all of our needs, and He put help in the scriptures for us—if only we seek it.”
I spent a lot of time thinking about his words. And realized that this was the answer to my prayers – a way to study my scriptures with purpose. A way to avoid that running in place feeling I had been (pardon the pun) running from. But how could I make that work? How could I know what my Heavenly Father would have me learn and focus on. And then it hit me.
My patriarchal blessing.
My personal roadmap.
My Heavenly Father’s words directly to me.
So, I pulled out my copy and read through it for the 908 billionth time (maybe not that many . . .). And I kept track of the important messages throughout my blessing. Then I read through that list and consolidated any that were really close into one thought. In the end, I landed on eight topics listed in my patriarchal blessing. I bought a pack of color pencils*, picked a color for each topic.
Next I printed some pages from the full size Book of Mormon that I mentioned earlier (link here). I also grabbed a journal. I started reading and didn’t even make it past the first verse before I was grabbing a pencil. The first line says “born of goodly parents” – and one of my topics was raising righteous children.
Here is a breakdown of the rules I set for myself, in case they help you too.
- No changing colors or topics midstream. Stick with your decisions.
- If you find a portion of a verse meaningful for a particular topic, but not the entire verse, just color the words that are meaningful and leave the rest alone.
- Consider reading a page or a chapter with just one topic in mind so you can better concentrate. Then re-read as necessary to hit the other topics.
- Watch for inspiration in every chapter. I’m not a huge fan of the wars. But I do know that even those chapters will contain some great stuff.
- If you feel inspired by a verse but don’t feel incredibly committed to the topic, consider just outlining the verse instead of coloring it in.
- Leave room for secondary colors – just in case inspiration strikes on a different topic.
- Don’t stress if you can’t find inspiration in every verse.
And did I mention, I’m in love the print your own pages Book of Mormon (http://www.bradjackman.com/wide-margin-edition-all-standard-works/). I especially love that I can simply reprint a page if I don’t like how the overall page is turning out. My kids even asked for their own scripture pages so they can “color” along with me. Such a great addition to our family scripture study as well.
My own personal topical guide is in progress but I love it. Already I can feel my Father in Heaven speaking more directly to me through my scriptures. The saying goes “If you want to talk to your Heavenly Father, pray. If you want him to talk to you, read your scriptures.”