A few weeks ago my daughter-in-law texted me to alert me to be sure to see a movie she had just viewed. She knows my husband and I love movies and seek out the ones we believe are the “best of the best”, but this one was one she urged us to be sure to see on the big screen. “Don’t miss it!” she said.
I’m sure you have had more than a few times when someone urged you not to miss something. He or she believed we would enjoy it and wanted to share it with us. I know I have said the same thing to others as well.
Far too often we miss many things that can inspire, enlighten, or arrest our attention as we sail through most of our days. We don’t need to be in a movie theater, attend a concert or sporting event, or have seats in the arena at the Olympics to experience them. We do, however, need to be awake and fully present to such discoveries. The challenge is whether we will slow down long enough to catch the discoveries.
One of the numerous ways this can show up is when we are in our times with the Lord. If we have known Him for some time, we can almost disengage as we read passages in His Word that we know so well that we miss the nuggets we have yet to discover.
My senses have been heightened in that regard as a result of reading The Burning Word by Judith Kunst as she describes the Jewish Midrash way of reading and turning over the scripture.
Kunst makes a great comparison of how many of us read scripture versus the Jewish way of reading it:
“My religious tradition was more about movement. The primary task of our Bible reading was traveling, through the trusted medium of Holy Scripture, toward a perfection of knowing and doing that was somewhere out there, beyond words.
The Jewish way of reading, I am learning, is less about progressing than about digging in, holding on – not passing through words but dwelling in them, under and around them.”
I can own the truth that I have sometimes read through passages to accomplish a goal or find some information or help. Other times I have known the richness of taking time to value the story I hold in my hands in the Bible and to look deeper into the meanings, the context, the key words, and more.
To consider the choice of a single word and why it may have been chosen is where Kunst’s writing has taken me. A recent example was when I was preparing for a women’s Bible study on the Gospel of John.
While reading John 14:6 (ESV) where Jesus tells his disciples “I am the way, the truth, and the life”, my attention fixed on that little word, the. It’s such a common word that it rarely gets much attention from any of us in our daily life, let alone in our reading of scripture. Yet, it was such a moment of discovery to recognize the significance of this little article used as an adjective before those key descriptors of Jesus (way, truth, life).
Many today believe there are many ways to God, many ways to heaven.
If that were true, then perhaps Jesus would have rightly said, “I am a way, a truth, and a life”. Using “a” points to something that is indefinite and can imply it is one of many choices. But Jesus chose the definite article “the”. Choice of that word means it is a specific object, thing, or person that both the person speaking and the listener know. That little word makes all the difference in understanding what Jesus meant as He was teaching.
It may sound like a small thing, but it was an “aha” moment for me to slow me even further in my consideration of the rich texts that I read during my time in the Word with the Lord.
Accomplishing goals in reading scripture are good things, but I wonder if we miss more than we realize when we make that the focus.
Perhaps we also miss that what we are reading is not only truth but also real.
When David wrote the Psalms that were so descriptive of the world around him and his own experience, have we considered the language he used was describing real things, places, and people? The trees, the streams, the rocks, and all that David and every other writer of the Word named were real.
Archaeological discoveries find more and more proof of the truth and the realness of the story we read from Genesis to Revelation. It is far from fiction and fantasy.
Consider that God wanted to convey to his created human beings that He was and is real. It was not lost on Him that our finite understanding made it impossible to grasp the eternal and infinite.
So, He chose to show us who He was and is and Jesus came to the earth. He was and is real in every way, but He was and is also God.