Friday, February 5, 2010

Here's a story that I can't shake out of my head:

4 years ago, I took a Hebrew class with a great scholar of the Hebrew language, Dr. Duane Garrett. One day, at the end of class, he said that he had one last lesson to teach before class was dismissed. He then spoke a sentence in French, and translated it:

"To learn, you must first love".

He then elaborated by saying that, if you love a thing, you will find yourself easily, even unconsciously, learning all about it. Your brain assigns top priority to the thing you love because your emotions demand it.

Then he asked, how many of you have read J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit"?

About a dozen of us raised our hand.

"Who can name for me the thirteen dwarves who accompanied Bilbo Baggins on his journey to the Lonely Mountain"?

Everyone's hand went down, except for mine.

"Well", he said, "Ben knows. Please name them for us, Ben".

I was a little overeager to show off. "Balin, Dwalin, Kili, Fili, Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, and Thorin, son of Thrain, son of Thror, Oakenshield, King Under the Mountain".

He nodded. "Correct."

I was wonderfully pleased with myself.

"As you can see, Ben has developed a love for his subject matter, and the result is a comprehensive knowledge of it."

I was beaming at this point.

"Now", he continued, "can anyone name for me the twelve sons of Jacob, as recorded in the Book of Genesis?"

Dreadful, stunned silence. No one raised their hand-especially me.

What Dr. Garrett said next was graceful. He simply explained the method by which he learned the twelve sons of Jacob when he was in school. But far more cutting was what he didn't say, because he didn't have to say it: "If you really had a love for studying the scriptures, you would have learned basic facts like this, instead of wasting your time learning the names of dwarves". He didn't say this, but I immediately saw that it was true. Needless to say, I learned the names of Jacob's sons soon after this:


This is a lesson I wish never to forget. If I want to learn the scriptures, I must cultivate a love for them. But the only way to do this is to ask God to give me a love for them. There's no other way.

Today, I continued reading the Bible out loud-for thirty minutes, as before. I also reviewed Genesis 1:1-10. Then I learned Genesis 1:11-15, which went like this:

Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation; seed-bearing plants and trees on the land bearing fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds", and it was so. The land produced vegetation;plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearingfruit with seed in it, according to their kinds, and God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning-the third day. And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky, to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so.

Tomorrow's another day!

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