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You’re familiar with the Nobel Prize, but what about the Ig Nobel Prize?

Since 1901, the Nobel Prize has been given to those deemed to have made outstanding contributions in fields such as peace, physics, chemistry, medicine, and literature. These contributions are truly, you know, noble.

The Ig Nobel Prize is not nearly as old and not nearly as noble. According to the Improbable Research site:

“The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that make people laugh, then think. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative—and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology.”

The Ig Nobel Prizes for this year were announced earlier this month. This year’s Ig Nobel Prize for medicine goes to a group of researchers who wanted to know if there are an equal number of nose hairs in each nostril. You’re surprised as I am, right? I mean, how come this is just now being looked into?! OK, I know it sounds silly, but when you realize why they did it, it makes sense. (Sorry for all the bad puns. Sometimes I don’t nose when to stop.)

The Ig Nobel Prize that got my attention was in the field of literature. Most of us have experienced déjà vu, the illusion that what we’re seeing or experiencing is something we’ve already experienced. It feels as if you’re experiencing something you’re already lived before. Jamais vu is just the opposite; it is the sensation of experiencing something for the first time, even though it might be something you’ve done many times before.

The Literature Prize goes to some researchers who looked into jamais vu by having individuals copy the same words over and over and over again. They were to stop writing the words when they started feeling odd. The researchers found that, after thirty repetitions of a word (or after one minute), the words tended to lose their meaning. A familiar word began to look strange, like it was just a bunch of letters.

What did they hope to learn from this? Good question! And that’s why they received an Ig Nobel Prize.

Perhaps you’ve experienced jamais vu in a spiritual way. I know I have. My habit is to read Scripture every day. I have a discipline of beginning my day by reading Scripture—up to five chapters a day. I also study it, listen to it, memorize it, meditate on it, but my day always begins with reading. I’m on my 59th read through the Bible because I want to be saturated with God’s Word.

The most amazing thing happens from time to time. Although I am reading a passage, I am already familiar with, every once in a while, a verse hits me like I’ve never read it before. It comes across as new and fresh. These researchers might call it jamais vu, but I call it the work of the Holy Spirit. For what I am going through at that time, the Holy Spirit opens my eyes to see how His Word applies to my life and my circumstances. The Spirit takes His Word and it comes alive. His Word, which I love and feel so familiar with, becomes in that moment, unfamiliar. It’s like the light comes on for the first time. And that’s what I love about Scripture. After all, it is living and active.

“For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).

I don’t expect a bunch of scientific researchers to get what I’m saying. This is not jamais vu as they define it. It’s only through the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit that they could appreciate this wonderful experience.

“Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God…. But the person without the Spirit does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually” (1 Cor. 2:12,14).

The one who follows Christ can know this. The one who lives in submission to the lordship of Christ can know the work of the Spirit in his or her life. Begin with this prayer from Psalm 119:

“Open my eyes so that I may contemplate wondrous things from your instruction” (Ps. 119:18).

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Republished with permission from, featuring inspiring Bible verses about Hearing a Fresh Word from Scripture.

Republished with permission from

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