By Dan Vis
January 20, 2020
If life gets any busier I fear that there will be a total disconnect, not only with each other but with the Lord. We like to text because we can do away with cordial formalities and get to the point, but now we hardly have time to carefully read a 3 sentence text! I wonder if it’s because we don’t have time or if it’s because we have shorter attention spans than before. Constant interruptions keep the mind from getting into deep thought—commonly called “the zone.” Time flies when we’re in the zone because our minds are absorbed and active. It’s a great “place” to be! The good news is, we can learn to think deeply with just a little effort and prayer. Hasn’t God said that we can have the renewing of our minds? Absolutely!
Sometimes I’m feeling disinterested in Bible study. I might be tired, or busy, or stressed, etc.
It’s this time more than ever when I need a vital connection with the Lord. There is no better way to connect with Him than in His word. But scripture does not say to read to shew thyself approved unto God . . .”, but to study . . . to rightly divide the word of truth. (II Timothy 2:15Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth..) How to study is not something we are generally taught to do as new believers. There are many ways to study, but today I’d like to introduce you to a method of study that is deep, personal, and engaging. The method is commonly called “Verse mapping.”
Our minds do not store information on lined paper, no, brain connections look more like roads and highways interconnecting, very much like a map. While lines on paper are clean, orderly, and likely the best way to communicate information from one to another, it is difficult to use lines and paragraphs to dissect and assimilate a verse, passage, chapter, or book of the Bible. Mapping does away with format and focuses on information in whatever form is the best: a word, sentence, arrow, emoticon, or shape, and may even use color coding or art work.
I have mapped the entire book of Revelation, and when it was done, it looked much more like a street map than an encyclopedia entry. It was an amazing journey with hours of zoning in which the book of Revelation became alive! But mapping can also be a simple, random verse, and that’s a great place to begin. Mapping may not be an everyday event, but it can easily be one more tool that you can use for diversity in connecting with the word of God.
There is no wrong way to map, but I’d like to give you a few pointers to get you started. Let me give you a picture of a completed work so you have a basic idea where we’re going with this. This is on a 3x5” card. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1sssYZuyH3V0Y6TmDaWFjL0QLETgNz_ga/view
Now it’s your turn. Give yourself at least 15 minutes, though you can spend much longer if you’d like.
1. Select a verse. It may be one you’ve found during your reading, one you’ve had questions about, or one that you’ve memorized and think you know very well.
2. Pray for the Holy Spirit to help you “rightly divide the word of truth.” Write the verse leaving some space for additional notes. It’s nice to have an unlined notebook/artist’s sketch diary/folder designated just for mapping since these will be treasures you’ll want to keep.
3. Personalize the verse and then read it a couple of times slowly and prayerfully. Mark any words or phrases that attract your attention. See map: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Aul5VI8JPaOkW0VRjzdtGGEbfzE6ENdi/view
4. Look for connections, jot down thoughts, look up the meaning of words in a concordance like Strong’s or in a standard dictionary, look up cross references from the margins or your Bible or from the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, and allow the Holy Spirit time to bring verses to your remembrance that connect to this verse. One thought will lead to another and one insight to another. Draw arrow and lines connecting your “Ah-ha” thoughts. Write what you learn on your map. You will likely be surprised at how much you discover about God’s awesome word!
5. Finally, write out a prayer of dedication, praise, thanks, confession, or whatever this verse inspires you to do.
That’s it! You can use a pencil or a variety of colors. It’s your personal time with God. Bask in the word of God. In His presence if fullness of joy! See completed map: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1q8ih10javORssPL2dDZdZbZCe-dI8xPX/view?usp=sharing
Example of mapping topics:
Example of mapping a passage:
I’d love to see some of your maps!
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