A lot of my friends in bible study use highlighters. They bring them to every session, and I watch them carefully marking key passages in their copy of whatever book we happen to be studying. They use their highlighters to remind them later of a point they wanted to make, or to bring out the important central idea of a chapter. It all looks very law-schoolish.
That wouldn’t work for me. Not because I have trouble drawing straight lines. I do, but that’s not the problem. And not because I can’t figure out which point is the key point. I’m no St. Jerome, but even a blind bible-studier can find the coconut that lands on his head. (God knows that “subtle” doesn’t work for me, so he keeps it pretty obvious.)
No the problem with me isn’t lack of key points, it is an excess of them. You see, God talks to me through religious books, and the conversation is seldom the same. The point I learn from Scott Hahn may be one thing the first time I read it, but an entirely different lesson the next.
The Bible is even worse. After a dozen or more readings, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul, James and the gang continue to surprise me. I find lots of familiar parables, beatitudes and commandments, but I also find verses, poems, and ideas that I swear were never there before. God continues to teach me His wisdom, and it is obvious that I won’t be graduating from Kindergarten any time soon.
So, do you see the problem I would have with a highlighter? If I marked every key phrase, and what I think is every central theme, before too long, my entire Bible would be one solid smear of yellow ink. Instead, I question and He answers. I explore and He reveals. I go to Him with my need that day, and His answer reveals my instructions.