My husband and I went to see a newly released movie back in 1981-On Golden Pond—since we loved the two leading actors, Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn. We fell in love with the movie, the story, the music, and the actors. We were clearly not the only ones as the list of Academy and Golden Globe Awards was a long one for the film and the actors.
I would guess many of you (not all) have seen it. The story of Norman and Ethel played by Fonda and Hepburn details the experience of an older couple returning to their summer cabin together. Though married for quite some time, each of them views the cabin and the return through a different lens.
Katharine as Ethel is excited to hear the loons, uncover the furniture, and find berries in the woods. Henry as Norman is fearful and preoccupied with dying. Their experiences prior to the opening scene that have affected their perspective are not fully revealed, but we get hints occasionally when their daughter and a grandson come to visit.
I remember so well how much we chuckled at certain scenes in the movie just as we found other scenes very endearing. Watching the relationship of this older married couple unfold included glimpses into their frustrations with each other as well as their deep love. The depth of their love shows through at numerous points including when Ethel fears Norman may have died when he falls and is not at first responsive and when she calls him her “knight in shining armor”.
When we first saw the movie we were in our thirties and we looked through those lenses and experiences. Those affected where we laughed in the movie as well as what we missed in certain places.
We have seen the movie a number of times since then and still love the score and the story, but our lens, our framework, is different now that we are older. Some scenes that show clearly they are “elderly” are not so funny to us now. We are older and though not as old as they are, we have walked with older friends of ours in just such a season. We know each day brings us closer to what Ethel and Norman were experiencing. We see with friends the anguish that poor health and death of a spouse is like so we see the movie differently, through a different framework.
It can be very easy for our framework to affect what we see or don’t see in every aspect of life.
Have you considered how it also affects what you see when you read scripture? We likely do not even realize it when it is happening, but it is important to pay attention. If we don’t, our framework will inform or color the text and may well distort the author’s meaning and intent when it is the text that must inform our framework so the Lord can speak into our lives with the hope only He can offer.
I was freshly reminded of that when I first participated in a Simeon’s Trust workshop with my daughter in 2016. It was one of a number of important tools of “First Principles” that were taught and applied as we worked together in small groups.
As I have been reflecting on this point of how much our framework can affect our view of the text of scripture, I was reminded of On Golden Pond where the view of life is affected by their own unique framework. That framework wasn’t unusual for them and our own framework is not unusual for us, but it is important when I am reading scripture to be aware of it and that it can color or even distort what I am reading.
What are some of the things that can make up our framework when we are reading in God’s Word? The list can be quite long, but let me share a start for you to consider:
- Your age or season of life
- Your ethnicity and experiences related to that
- Your vocation
- Your denominational background
- Your gender
- Your socioeconomic status
- Your sin patterns
- Your Christian maturity
- Your culture
- Your personality
- Your misconceptions
That beginning list gives you a sample of some of what influences your framework. Our framework can be helpful or it may hinder the truth of the passage we are reading. The key thing is to identify our framework and to try to approach the text with fresh eyes.
If we pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us and have Him illuminate our understanding of a passage, He will be faithful and help us see what we may very well miss.
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 NIV
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17