Photo by Michael Gaida on Pixabay

Did you know that some people make a hobby out of “reading” the forest in winter? By that I mean identifying trees despite their being bare of leaves this time of year.

This can be quite challenging, because frankly, many species of trees look almost identical to each other without their leaves. How do these nature lovers do it? How do they “fill in the blanks” and distinguish one species of tree from another in winter?

They accomplish this by looking for clues in the colour and pattern of the tree’s bark. They’re also able to spot nuances in the tree’s silhouette, and in the arrangement of the twigs and limbs. Valuable pointers can also be found in the dormant buds. There are other tip-offs nature lovers look for: pods still dangling down can indicate a black locust tree, for instance.

These people have studied trees so intimately and have memorized their features so well that they can differentiate between species even when the trees have lost their signature identifier: their leaves. Their knowledge of the trees’ other characteristics helps them fill in the blanks.

I admire people who know trees this thoroughly. It’s clear they’ve spent a lot of time studying something they love. They’ve gained an in-depth knowledge of a subject important to them, and it shows.

I admire even more people who know Scripture this intimately.

People who love God’s word spend a lot of time studying and memorizing it, and it shows. They can fill in the blanks and identify a verse even when given only part of it to go by.

Photo by Sharyn Morrow on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Most of us can probably do this with popular idioms, such as:

“A stitch in time saves .”

“When the cat’s away, the mice will .”

Can you complete the following well-known Bible verses?

“The Lord is my ; I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1)

“For God so loved the that He gave his only begotten Son.” (John 3:16)

“In my Father’s house are many .” (John 14:2)

How did you fare with filling in the blanks? Do you wish you knew the Bible a bit better? It’s not too late to make a New Year’s resolution to read the Bible daily, and there are many resources online that can help you do just that.

You may find the YouVersion Bible App to be helpful, or you might want to follow a Bible reading plan, such as those found under Bible Gateway’s “Study” menu. No matter which method you use, you won’t regret investing time in becoming more familiar with God’s Word.

“Your word is like a lamp that guides my steps, a light that shows the path I should take.” (Psalm 119:105)

Identifying leafless trees in winter can be a fun and gratifying hobby, but unless you’re a botanist, it’s probably not a skill you’ll call upon every day of your life.

Learning Scripture, on the other hand, brings us enormous benefits. It enriches us daily. It helps us “fill in the blanks” in our own lives with eternal wisdom. The empty spaces in our hearts can be filled with the knowledge of God’s incredible love for us.

If you’ve felt like there’s been something lacking in your life, maybe God is the missing piece of the puzzle!

© 2020 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.

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