Reading the Word vs. Competitive Cow Tipping...
There is something about waking early in the morning that I just love. My brother, Tim, thinks me queer to have such a penchant for the darkness that precedes the dawn. He likes to stay up late and get up late. I like to bed down early and get up early. He is Abel; I am Cain. The only difference in the status of our brotherly relationship is that I haven’t killed him yet. But I digress.
As the sun rounded the bend of the horizon this morning and cast its reflective light off the cottony clouds, the most beautiful array of colors filled the eastern sky. Hues of orange and pink covered the low hanging clouds like a water-colored canvass and from the Backwater Café, on the banks of the slow moving Flat River, a perfect reflection mirrored the resplendent skyline. The aesthete in me lurched forward expectantly.
I sat among the company of men this morning, my Talmidim (group of Talmids following a Rabbi), my Intimates, my Brothers, my Allies. We talked of politics, hunting, and church. But it wasn’t long before we landed on what I believe was the issue of the hour, the jewel of great price. The topic was the Sacred Scripture. Namely, whether or not we were reading it with regularity and reverence.
I have been stirred lately by the nagging sense that people aren’t “really” reading their Bibles. I mean, really reading. You could ask people, “Are you reading your Bible?” and they typically shrug and mumble something with the words “kinda and sorta” laced within their roundabout response, but that’s not reading, that’s gadabout grazing. I’m talking about the face-full feeding, honey on my lips, heart-panting consumption of the spoken and written word of God Himself. And the answer to that question of reading is a resounding “NO”. There are more people participating in competitive cow tipping out there. This trend has got to change.
We read this verse together and it eviscerated my hardening arteries.
25 “I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, ‘I had a dream! I had a dream!’ 26 How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds? 27 They think the dreams they tell one another will make my people forget my name, just as their ancestors forgot my name through Baal worship. 28 Let the prophet who has a dream recount the dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. For what has straw to do with grain?” declares the LORD. 29 “Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?
At best, so many of my conversations among Christians are “I had a dream! I had a dream!” which translated into our modern vernacular would be something like “I have an idea! I have a story!” Without knowing it, we are following the “delusions of our minds” all the while we are forgetting the name of God, the nature of God. The notions of God get shrouded with our nonsense. God and His Word become part of the supporting cast at best, the stationary fixtures in the set design at worse. The real plot of the story is crowded with our dreams, desires, demands and directives.
These are not all bad, “let the one who has a dream recount it”. Fine. Share your story. Float your idea. Pitch your plan. But at the end of the conversation…the operative word is “your”. There must be a sacred shift to “His”. And it’s interesting to me that God says, “let them share their dreams” but I want the one “who has my word to speak it FAITHFULLY”. He goes on to juxtapose the two using the metaphor of straw and grain. They both have purposes that are useful, but the grain is far superior to the straw. Straw is used to bed stalls catching the dung coming out of the butts of beasts, but the grain feeds and fuels, strengthens and stabilizes.
The Word is a fire. It is the agent of purification. It brings the passion.
The Word is a hammer. It demolishes delusions. It breaks down walls of bondage like a wrecking ball.
As we wrapped up the morning, I was challenged afresh to latch on to the Word. Our Brotherhood is setting out to drink deep of the Word in the coming weeks and months and years.
We are putting away our snorkels and putting on our scuba gear.
It’s high time. It’s about time.