Friday, January 6, 2017

His steadfast love endures forever.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my Strength and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

The Psalmist testified that God’s Word quickened him; and as you receive God’s Word into your being, your whole physical being will be quickened and you will be made strong. -Smith Wigglesworth

That daily quarter of an hour, for now forty years or more, I am sure has been one of the greatest sustenances and sources of calm for my life. Of course, such ‘reading’ is hardly reading in the ordinary sense of the word at all. As well could you call the letting a very slowly dissolving lozenge melt imperceptibly in your mouth ‘eating’. Such reading is, of course, meant as directly as possible to feed the heart, to fortify the will–to put these into contact with God. –Baron Friedrich Von Hügel

I know all about throat lozenges. Ricola bonbons aux herbes, sans sucre have been my constant companion for this winter flu season, tucked into every pocket and bag, to be pulled out to “melt imperceptibly” in my mouth again and again, as I sniff my way through the day.

And while there is certainly a delightful and transformative place to wrestle with translations and commentaries and cultural context, serving and slicing up and chewing thoughtfully His word, often in the companionship of others, like a big celebratory dinner, I do begin every day in still soaking.

For so long I raced through the Bible in a year, neatly and perhaps even smugly crossing out each assigned passage, day after day, year after year. And it has been a good thing, like when I was seven-years-old and stood in front of Valley of the Fall Community Church congregation and recited the books of the Bible in order and the twenty-third Psalm and received a red faux-leather King James Bible with my name on the front cover in gold gilt lettering.

And I was on an accreditation trip with Dave Rhodes a LONG time ago in Guadalajara, Mexico. And both of us were very diligent and got up way early to drink instant Nescafé in the dim school cafeteria and do our daily quiet time. And after he watched me zip through my little triple-fold schedule, he shared with me his approach… read until the one verse shouted out, “This is it for today.” And then he stopped. And meditated. Open to whatever the Spirit had to say for that day. Listening. Pause.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still waters.

Still waters.

I think that is what I appreciate so very much about my weekly African Methodist Episcopalian Bible Study. We read the Scripture. We copy it neatly into the blank spots on our worksheet. And then we smile and receive it with great joy.

Still waters.

And I visited my friend Shelley yesterday and she and Jerry are walking through a very long, very boulder-strewn valley of the shadow of death. And when the night gets too long and dark and the fears start piling up around her, she slips out of bed and turns to His Word that wraps comfort and peace and strength around her aching soul. She is memorizing Psalm 118 to feed the heart, to fortify the will–to put these into contact with God, His steadfast love endures forever.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my Strength and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

That I may be made strong.

Embrace courage.

Still waters.