Don’t Be An Expert in the Unimportant

The prince of Grenada, an heir to the Spanish crown, was sentenced to life in solitary confinement in “The Place of the Skull”—Madrid’s ancient prison. The prison’s name derived its reputation for being dirty, dreary…and deathly. Kind of like an ancient “Hotel California” where inmates check out any time they like, but they can never leave.

During his confinement, the prince was given one book to read: the Bible. With all the extra time on his hands, he read it hundreds and hundreds of times. The book became his constant companion.

After thirty-three years of imprisonment, he died. When the guards cleaned his cell, they found notes the man had scrawled into the soft stone of the walls using a nail. His notations went like this:

  • Psalm 118:8 is the middle verse of the Bible
  • Ezra 7:21 contains all the letters of the alphabet except the letter j
  • The ninth verse of the eighth chapter of Esther is the longest verse in the Bible
  • No word or name of more than six syllables can be found in the Bible.

When Scot Udell originally noted these facts in an article in Psychology Today, he commented on the oddity of an individual who spent thirty-three years of his life studying what some have described as the greatest book of all time—yet all he could glean from it was trivia. For all we know, the words he read never impacted his life…but he became an expert at Bible trivia.

Like the Prince of Grenada, I so easily fall into the trap of regarding the Bible as a book of facts. I become an expert in the unimportant. And my life remains unchanged.

Let’s Begin The Conversation!

In two-and-a-half weeks, we’re going to begin our journey together reading through the Bible in one year. My hope is that all of us will be transformed from the experience. If we’re reading in order to learn a bunch of facts, then all of us are wasting our time.

So how can we be transformed?

Since we’re building a community of people who will be spending the next year together, I’d like to open it up to you:

Share a time when reading something from the Bible changed you. What made the difference?

I’m anxious to read your comments–and I’ll share a little something after we get the “Bible Conversation” started.




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6 responses to “Don’t Be An Expert in the Unimportant

  1. Linda

    God gave us our brain not as a roadblock but as a sieve, expecting us to separate the chaff and let the nutrition of the “wheat” make that journey to our heart. Jesus said how difficult it us for a rich person to enter His Kingdom; perhaps that also means that those of us who are what the world calls “bright” are also wealthy in a way and that wealth can be a real stumbling block…

    • Absolutely, Linda. Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:37 come to mind: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” I’m not good at multi-tasking, so I struggle with doing both at the same time. My tendency is to either analyze something to death, or accept something wholeheartedly without thinking through what it is saying. The first results in cold religion, the other results in passionate heresy (I know that’s a harsh word, but that’s where it ends).

  2. Doris

    This is an interesting thought study, that I plan on dwelling on for a few day – journaling. The were two times that came to mind and I am not sure of what they say about me – but want to hear others share – so here goes. I was reading through Genesis, and came to the curses; where God tell Adam and Eve there are consequences. One part of Eve’s curse was that her desire would be for her husband. I know this has a lot of meaning other than what came to me that day, but suddenly the struggles I was having with letting go of my emotionally abusive wildly unfaithful ex-husband took on a new light – and I felt an incredible grace. There was calm in the storm. I was changed because I saw my own humanity in light of the fall.

    The another time was when I came across the 22nd Psalm.
    “1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from the words of my groaning?”

    I realized that Jesus even as he was dieing was speaking the Psalms. To me it seemed as if he not only used them as a vessel to express his agony, but as a call, a plea for the hearts of the Jews surrounding the cross – saying I am who I say I am – you can believe my deepest love for you. And, as an act of comfort for his followers as the Psalm ends this way
    “31 They will proclaim his righteousness
    to a people yet unborn—
    for he has done it.”
    The humbling, amazing, BLAZING, love of Jesus – left me in awe.

    • What a gift, Doris. Thank you for sharing. Your first example reminds me of Jesus’ words in John 8:32 “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I hear you saying that the truth for you was in understanding that you would naturally look to your husband for your identity. And that it’s part of the curse, which Jesus bore on the cross (the last part is stuff I’m adding to your insights).

      One of the most life-changing insights I’ve had over the last 10 years is that I’m screwed up. Completely depraved. Because I’m depraved and I need forgiveness, I can’t easily justify refusing to forgive someone else.

  3. LJ

    I have read the Bible from the time of my childhood days spent in Catechism classes and throughout years of parochial schooling. However, in all that time, for me, the Bible was only filled with stories and lessons / rules to live by if you were going to go to heaven. Simply put, it was a book with words on the page creating head knowledge that I used in various ways as I walked through this life.

    However, I still remember the first time, less than three years ago on a retreat weekend, that the Bible came alive for me, John 14 & 15. I was no longer ignorant of the call to obedience, the fullness of the Holy Spirit, the richness of the Love of the Father, the need for community and connectedness, relationship with Jesus, and how I would experience challenges from the world. Those two chapters still reverberate in my life and are the cornerstone of how I LIVE today.

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