I was sitting on the couch a few days ago working on a crochet project I have going for Christmas. As I was flicking my fingers and yarn, I got thinking about patterns. Patterns seem to be everywhere! When you learn to crochet or knit or paint or even write, you start with a pattern. You learn basic stitches or strokes and then adapt those into complex arrangements of the pattern. Sometimes the patterns repeat over and over again. Those complex arrangements become the intricate design that, eventually, becomes your masterpiece! If you look closely enough at a masterpiece, you will see the tiny repetitions within. I love a good pattern. It makes everything so neat and tidy. I like even numbers and ducks in a row. I’ve mused about it before (check it out here).
Have you seen it? Repeating patterns in buildings, flowers, clothing… almost anything both man-made and natural contain these “repeats”. I think God liked patterns too. We’ve seen how He gives us colours, symbols, numbers and the like to point us in the direction to go. (check out our “colouring party series” of posts here) Some small details paint a bigger picture of something. Some small details make up a larger masterpiece. Let’s go back to painting for a minute. Simple strokes of the paintbrush and basic colours are usually the start of a painting. Then, as more blending of strokes and colours happens, a more complex picture shows up… a tree of bushy branches, a rocky creek of shadows and depth, a sunset of layers of colours on the horizon. Fabulous, isn’t it? Are you seeing it?
Now. Let’s imagine you are writing a letter to someone you care about, but you want the letter to contain notes from all your friends to that same someone special. Everyone will have their own unique take on the message, but the “theme” of the note will be the same… the pattern’s building blocks with “the basics” will be intertwined throughout the note. Do you see where I am going here, my friends? Of course! The Bible is God’s love note to us! Yes, different writers have had their part to play in the history lesson, but God’s love letter is full of patterns!
I learned a unique way of Bible study some time ago that showed me just how to see these patterns in the passage I was studying. Take a handful of pencil crayons and as you read, start circling or underlining phrases or words that mark the building blocks of the pattern. For example, green for places, black for a time, circle people, highlight promises or commands or warnings. Then, as you flip through your pages, the patterns begin to emerge. Ever wonder why the authors repeat themselves? Are they making an important statement? One, we perhaps need to pay attention to? Trust me, you’ll begin to see the masterpiece emerge from the basic stitches repeating over and over again!
I saw the Bible described this way:
The Bible is a compilation of 66 books written over 1,600 years by 40 authors, all inspired by the Holy Spirit and beautifully telling the Big Story of God.
This Big Story is sometimes called the metanarrative of Scripture. It’s the story of how God works in the world through creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. (onethingalone.com) Each little story falls into place in the Big Story.
That “metanarrative” is the masterpiece encompassing all the little brush strokes and basic stitches contributed by 40 authors in 66 books. Cool, eh?
So, maybe next time you sit down to study you’ll give this colourful pattern hunting a try. Supplement it with journal keeping, or doodling or whatever you like that draws your attention to the Big Story of God’s love for you! You’ll be glad you did.
Then, you’ll begin to see the patterns everywhere… trust me.