Recently I asked members of Resurrection Lutheran to write brief devotionals based on their favorite Bible verse. These devotionals will be assembled into a booklet to used during Lent by members and friends of the congregation. I am excited with how the writers have engaged Scripture and its interplay with their lives. Each person has a unique perspective, reflection, or idea that opens up a verse or story in a new way.
When I was growing up, the Bible was a storybook filled with fascinating characters and plots. It was exciting, lively and challenging. As a teenager I sometimes went down strange tangents, looking for new interpretations that would catch my fancy. I remember reading the “wheel within a wheel” passage in Ezekiel 1 and wondering if it was describing a spaceship! The wonder and mystery of the Bible was alluring to me.
Then I went off to college and I was challenged to see the historical context of the authors, to learn the Biblical languages of Hebrew and Greek, and to understand the literary motifs and forms within the Bible. At times I was fascinated with this knowledge, gaining tremendous insight into this ancient collection of books, poems and laws. To read Genesis 1 and 2 in light of the Babylonian creation myths brought me new wisdom and excitement. But I also was disturbed by this avenue of learning because it seemed to make the Bible into an artifact to be dissected and classified. The Bible lost some of it awe and wonder.
I know that some of my classmates lost their faith during this time of critical examination. I waffled from time-to-time in my own grasp of truth and faith. Yet the sheer power of God’s glorious grace continued to shine through to me. God’s love was evident in the midst of the history, language and myth of the scripture. I remember hearing a quote from the great Swiss theologian, Karl Barth. When asked how one could best summarize the Bible, he said, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
I am excited to see how the Lenten devotional will touch and influence the culture of Resurrection. We are all called to engage scripture, to listen for God’s voice in God’s Word.
How or when has a Bible story or verse impacted your life?
Last fall, on the day we dropped off our college freshman, someone shared Genesis 31:49 with me. . . ‘May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other.’ It struck me as the perfect verse for the moment – and I was able to cling to that verse as my prayer (and not embarrass my son by clinging to him!) as we all entered into a time of adjustment and a new stage of life. I found it very grounding and a reminder of the trust and faith in God that I have – and that I need. Since then, I’ve read more of that passage, and learned that in the events surrounding this verse, the conversation was more about keeping one’s word, and having God as a witness to that covenant – men reminding one another to keep their word, even when no one was watching. My understanding of the verse has changed, but it continues to challenge me. Both then and now, this verse serves as a needed reminder of the presence and power of God.