She loves me, she loves me not, loves me, loves me not, loves me, loves me not, loves me . . . not. Wait. Keeping count is the whole ballgame.
Understanding the message, getting it down in order, an order that can be recalled and clearly reconstructed, that’s the objective, that’s how we know where we stand!
We’re not writing a book, not making the grocery list. Mere words aren’t enough. Sentences are too much. Marking lively and, betimes, errant themes of the heart must be done with shrewd concentration. Observations have to be inscribed with abandon, never looking back.
The document so created, on the back of an envelope, the back of the hand or on rag vellum, is to be entirely secret. No eye but our own can be allowed to invade its content.
The best strains may be read and re-read, read and read again, refined, savored and, possibly, committed to memory. These clandestine lines constitute the living verse of learning, the very language of all that matters most.
One hand on the wheel and the other steadily scribbling, the writing posture of the lover may well produce a hieroglyph only discernable to the author. Reading this symbolic script often is possible for only a day or two.
Listening for clues, attention on red alert, imagination in high gear, ready to condense the flow of fact into parable or flash version, key words are grabbed and flattened on paper, references are jotted in their codes and hung on major points.
Major points, main ideas, references, perhaps a word that stands out, these are the first scratchings. Left behind? Lost? Start again! Thoughts between can be filled in later.
Concentration, paying attention, is the important thing. Motivation, drive, interest in what is being said, that’s what gives us the edge. Not thinking of myself, not looking at others, not lolly-gagging or gathering moths . . .
Taking notes is part of our responsibility, part of the honor we owe. It’s the tool that helps to focus and keep our minds alert It helps us to think in a train of thought instead of day-dreaming or catching up on sleep. The effort pays good dividends too. It reveals our love for the Word and honors God for His love expressed in the Gospel.
Pattern for note taking:
Intro: What is the teacher’s message going to be about? Is there a title?
Reference: What was the reading assignment?
First point: Is it about blue herons, the village clown or the 4th of July? What is it about?
Another point: Am I hearing more, or have I wandered off?
Conclusion: Is there yet another point or a wrap-up that I should get? Write a summary phrase or sentence.
A computer works so well because it is designed to organize and manage a lot of information. God made our minds to do this in an almost infinitely more efficient and wonderful way. Here are some suggestions to help in clicking on the right buttons:
1. Provide your brain with some reference marks. Write down the reading assignment, text or title. [page numbers, text reference, etc. ]
2. Listen for key words or statements. Today we will examine the subject of ear wax, its chemical makeup and its purposes. Often, the speaker will briefly give the layout of the talk as part of the introduction. Jot this down.
3. Expect an indication of order from the speaker. My first point is the importance of lobe shape. Lobes tend to fall into one of five different contours.
4. Expect the order to continue, to have a certain continuity. Look for a second point with a similar order. If these signals are missed, try to continue the order on your own.
5. Make use of special signs of your own design. Draw a star next to an important word. Underline single, double, triple. Circle key words or phrases. Enclose crucial words in squares or rectangles.
6. At or near the end try to jot down a one-sentence summary of what was taught. As your ability increases this summary should become more and more complete.
7. Take command of the air waves. He that hath ears, let him hear!!
The message is presented by God’s grace. It is a message based on His eternal and sovereign love and mercy. The character of God is the message, His covenant promises, eternal love and mercy. This is what is heard by those who know His electing love.
An opposite and awful fruit is also declared as a consequence of God’s triumphant Word being preached and heard. It is the fact that the Scriptures always are effective, always efficient to produce that result that is according to God’s determining power. The Apostle Paul said, . . .we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? II Cor.2:15-16.
Knowing this should cause us, as God’s people, to listen even more carefully and thankfully, to pay more attention so that we never miss the word of His love. Our learning to think His thoughts after Him is our most important and wonderful blessing.
D K Dykema 03.07.