I’ve been working on the notes of a church study, and it’s reminded me of some of my school lessons: punctuation, grammar, spelling and the one I can particularly use on this project – précis. It means a short form of a text that leaves only the important parts. My brief is to reduce the wordiness, make the phrasing more modern and easy to read, and…interesting! I was also asked to see if there were any vital parts missing…and to add them! This is an eight-week course, so I’ve tried not to extend the number of pages.
I deleted much of the highlighting and all the underlining, making the pages less crowded and more inviting. I found a few more illustrations for readers who prefer pictures rather than big slabs of text, then I cut out the repetitive stuff! I checked every scripture reference and discovered the needed additions, but it was challenging to find a place for them. These notes have been around for years and the original compiler knew they needed updating! Proofreading is one of my pleasures, but it can be tricky when the material originates from more than one source.
As I cut into the study notes, I thought of the Bible and wondered why there’s so much repetition in God’s Word. They quoted Old Testament sayings repeatedly and whole chapters were duplicated in large swathes! Stories are told more than once and obscure people pop up in unexpected places. There are many lists, lots of names and genealogies…well, they abound. If I were God, I’d have a smaller book!
But I knew he’d have a reason. He didn’t only design it to be read; he wanted us to eat it! His words are food for our spirits, something we can carry with us like a meal in the desert where there’s no other food. He knows our spiritual digestive system!
The prophet Elijah discovered this same truth. After he’d had a stoush with the prophets of Baal and by God’s power overcome them resoundingly, he had a deep downer. Depressed and discouraged, he went into the wilderness to sleep it off. He thought he was the only prophet of God left in the world. How was God going to manage? What could he do with such a down-in-the-mouth seer? Well, God has supplies that even Elijah never knew.
As he slept under a broom tree, an angel was preparing a meal for him. When he woke, there it was! Twice the angel woke him and told him to eat and drink. That food was special, strengthening him for the forty days and nights it took him to travel across the desert to Sinai, the mountain of God. This was the place where God gave his Word to Moses, the site where he spoke, where the people of Israel saw his fire and smoke! Now this would be the place where Elijah would hear God’s famous whisper. I’ve read it could be translated as sound of sheer silence. Now there’s a thought about God’s Word!
What other book can I read, I thought, that would feed me like the Bible? None. I can taste its flavours every day, even a small mouthful is rich. It’s never out of date, never boring, always sustaining and it has something for me to carry on my journey. I’m so thankful that God didn’t ask me to proofread it!