A small bottle containing urine sat upon the desk of Sir William Osler. He was then the eminent professor of medicine at Oxford University. Sitting before him was a classroom full of young, wide-eyed medical students listening to his lecture on the importance of observing details. To emphasize his point, he reached down and picked up the bottle. Holding it high, he announced:
This bottle contains a sample for analysis. It’s often possible by tasting it to determine the disease from which the patient suffers.
Suiting action to words, he dipped a finger into the fluid and then into his mouth, as he continued—
Now I am going to pass the bottle around. Each of you please do exactly as I did. Perhaps we can learn the importance of this technique and diagnose the case.
The bottle made its way from row to row as each student gingerly poked his finger in and bravely sampled the contents with a frown. Dr. Osler then retrieved the bottle and startled his students with the words:
Gentlemen, now you will understand what I mean when I speak about details. Had you been observant you would have seen that I put my index finger into the bottle but my middle finger into my mouth!
There is much to be learned from that true story, especially regarding you and your Bible. Time and again I have heard the complaint, “But I just don’t get anything out of the Bible. I read it and ask God to show me His truth, but nothing happens!” Or people will occasionally say, “When I read that passage you preached on today, I wondered, ‘How in the world will he get anything out of this?’ I really can’t understand why I can’t see what is there.”
I’ve got good news—you can! But you will have to open your eyes and think. You will need to force yourself to observe, to take notice, to read the Scriptures like a detective examining the evidence, to discipline yourself to become saturated with the particulars of the passage. Since such attention to details will supply you with the raw materials you must have to interpret God’s Word accurately, I strongly advise you to begin today.
Think of your eyes as searchlights. Become a glutton for details in everyday life. Don’t glance at birds—see sparrows. Don’t smell flowers, observe the hyacinth, the fuchsia, the tulip. Don’t consider a tree—look at a willow or a birch. Don’t watch cars, notice Fords or Pontiacs and Toyotas. Don’t simply hear others’ words—listen for feelings and picture detailed concepts. Stop collecting the garbage of generalities and start stretching your mental muscles in the gymnasium of in-depth perception.
Most folks read through the Bible and casually notice birds, plants, trees, and wind. But not you! Aim higher than that.
Open the Song of Solomon and hear the liquid call of the turtledove.
Taste the pungent mandrakes of Genesis 30.
Smell the sweet cedarwood in 1 Kings.
Feel the salty blast of Euraquilo—that violent northeastern wind sweeping across the pages of Acts 27.
And when you stand in a hallowed place like Gethsemane, be aware! That Man who kneels among the gnarled and twisted trunks of the ancient olive trees is doing more than praying—He is pouring out His very soul before the Father. Don’t leave until you see His blood mingle with sweat and tears. Those are your sins He faces—it is the prospect of your punishment that tears at His soul. Don’t just glance at that scene—see Him!
The eternal Book of all books deserves a second look.
Excerpt taken from Come Before Winter and Share My Hope, copyright © 1985, 1988, 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission. For additional information and resources visit us at www.insight.org.