Monday, July 23, 2012

A living and active Word

I've been devouring scripture since I was a toddler.  My mom first started reading the Bible through with us when I was 2 and all that was available was King James (and not the New King James).  I have a strong auditory memory, so I've retained much of it, in the language it was first delivered to me.  I haven't intentionally memorized it, but I know it, nearly word for word.  It remains precious to me and I continue to devour it daily--to the best of my ability.   I have found it to be living and active--sharper than any two edged sword

Still, sometimes a new translation or a new season of life comes along and those old familiar passages take on a new vibrance--a new richness--and my heart is passionately enflamed again.  It's like walking the same familiar paths and finding them enrobed in a sunrise at spring when all is ablaze and blooming.  It was beautiful before but it becomes entrancing and makes me pause in wonder. 

For instance, Romans 5 is a familiar passage that I've heard all of my life (mostly in New International Version): 

Bok Tower Gardens
"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."

This is great stuff--talking about the way that God uses suffering to mold us into the character of Christ.  Here's Eugene Peterson's take on the beginning of Romans 5 in The Message:

"By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.  There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!"  Romans 5:1-5

See how what was familiar stands out with a new vibrance?  Just the phrase, "passionate patience" will hang with me the rest of the day, inviting me to chew on it in great delight.  Just like the two pictures above, the same place moves from simply beautiful to extravagantly amazing. 

If your time with the Lord has become stilted or dull, try checking out a new version of the same passages.  Compare them side by side.  Let your mind and heart be stirred to see the nuances scholars have observed in the original text.  Be careful to listen as the Holy Spirit points out new words or phrases from the "same old, same old" passages.  Write down what He points out so you can meditate on it throughout the day and come back to it weeks later.  Let it stir you to reconsider what the Word means in your life.  

You may never be the same.

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