When we stare at a fill-in-the-blank, we want to…fill the blank. In fact, we feel a need to fill every blank. The most important things might be said at another time not noted by a fill-in-the-blank exercise, but if something isn’t highlighted on our paper, we’re less likely to write it down.
The same is true for PowerPoint or other statements placed on a screen. We write down what the speaker has decided to highlight. Everything else seems secondary.
We need to be more attentive and less lazy.
I’m not saying we should do away with slides or note outlines altogether, but we don’t have to let them limit what we emphasize. We need to engage in the lesson, which is like a conversation. It’s not just about listening. It’s about responding.
When we ask God what He wants to highlight, the journey is much more personal, no matter how many people are in the room. God can use a single person, message, book, video, etc., to reach many people in a variety of ways at the same time.
When you’re willing to pay attention to what He highlights for you, you might have a lot less notes, but you’ll remember them better. They’re less likely to be tossed aside or filed away, which is important, because when God highlights something, it’s for a reason. He wants us to follow through and follow Him well.
It’s important to handle what He gives you well, but that assumes you are attentive to what He is trying to give and tell you. It takes practice. We’ve been coddled through fill-in-the-blanks and highlight slides.
Choose to write on a fresh piece of paper instead. Listen attentively, even if that means closing your eyes to not let the visuals distract you.
Listen for patterns. You might notice a word that keeps popping up in a variety of situations in your life. Perhaps it’s a Scripture verse that is perfectly timed for what you’re going through, or perhaps it’s a verse that seems out of place, and you need to dig a little deeper to find out why. Be alert for “a-ha” moments, when pieces click together and you get a fresh perspective.
Toss aside distortions of truth and nonessentials. Refuse to copy off your friend or neighbor. Discern for truth God wants you to know and claim right now. Then let it come alive off your notes and into your life.