greatest.story

a restless day. the fray on the radio.  that song that they used for grey’s anatomy last fall.  the droning, rambling, depressing sound matches my mood.

 bible 

i got new glasses and realized that i don’t feel like the bible is at all relevant to me in the same week.  i am sick to my stomach.  it isn’t that i don’t feel like the bible is important to my faith or my life, don’t get me wrong.  rather it is that prayer, faith,  and knowing that the God of the universe has it all wrapped up makes sense.  but the bible.  no.

i open it, and there is nothing there but empty words.  and i am feeling left out because this is supposed to be the greatest story in the history of stories, and i don’t get it on a personal level.  i keep reading these books and talking to people that call the bible “so personal” and “so meaningful” and i am just not there.  i open that great book and don’t know where to start.  and it isn’t that i don’t believe, or that i am waiting for some mystical magic to happen, but it doesn’t bring comfort and sense to my life.  the fucking ‘tao of pooh’ made more sense to me when i read it last month.  i could relate the principles to my life immediately.  it made sense.

and then i start reading ‘this beautiful mess’ by rick mckinleyand he makes all kinds of statements about passages that i don’t really understand, and i just want to throw the book across the room.  it isn’t mckinley it is the lack of biblical knowledge.  i want to grasp the bible.  i want to understand.  i want the bible to get up under my skin until i am so excited that i can’t stand it. 

no teacher or pastor i have ever known has made the bible truly real.  rob bell came close. amante’s dad, not so much.  any bible study i have ever been a part of?  no. 

my neighbor scooby said to me the other nite that he has read the bible.  but then he said that he didn’t get it.  any of it.  where is the reality of the bible? am i just reading the wrong books?  dont’ tell me how the kingdom of God is right here.  i know that.  i have experienced that.  don’t tell me that if i just read it that after a while i will start to get it.  i have done that.  it doesn’t work. 

teach it to me.  like you would teach me math. 

only relate it to my world.  relate it to my sufferings.  relate it to my fears and hopes and dreams and joys.  make it real so that i can make it real for my daughter.  make it real like bowie and green day and the fray.  make the words penetrate my soul and stay there. 

make me love the bible like i love the other literature that lines my shelf.  because right now, i don’t.

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~ by Erin on 7 February, 2007.

9 Responses to “greatest.story”

  1. >>teach it to me. like you would teach me math.

    I’m not sure that’s possible. The Bible is not a school subject, something you can read every day, memorize some facts, do some homework, and then move on. The point of the Bible is not to be clear, or to be memorized, or to transform our lives. The point of the Bible is to direct us to God. It’s a picture into the life of Christ, and how He came to earth to die on the cross so we can establish a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe.

    So in that respect, the Bible is useful only as far as it aids our relationship with Him. Not “getting it” right now doesn’t make the Bible irrevelant or you a bad person. I’m not saying there isn’t power in the Word, that quoting Scripture won’t rebuke demons, or things like that, but in some sense I think that comes back to building our relationship with God.

    Also, and I’m preaching to myself more than anything here, I think there’s something to be said for reading the Word every day, regardless of whether you feel like it or feel “spiritual.” In some ways, it’s God’s job, through the Holy Spirit, to speak through His word into your life, assuming you are open and receptive to Him. Worshipping God (ie. on Sundays) is beneficial, even on those days you don’t feel like attending church. But don’t get overly frustrated or down on yourself just because you don’t seem to “get it” or it doesn’t seem to be immediately applicable to your life…

  2. Spaugh said: “The point of the Bible is not to be clear, or to be memorized, or to transform our lives. The point of the Bible is to direct us to God. It’s a picture into the life of Christ, and how He came to earth to die on the cross so we can establish a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe. So in that respect, the Bible is useful only as far as it aids our relationship with Him.”

    ************

    really? because i was under the impression that it was supposed to fill me to overflowing with God’s promises and hope and well being, as well as be a guide. as for the idea that the bible won’t transform our lives, what else is it supposed to do!?!! if i live the tenants therein, it is the only thing, along with the directions i learn in it, and the wisdom of Christ and the Holy Spirit that WILL change my life!!!

    i don’t mean to come off as defensive. i think i am just trying to seek a source of comfort, and i have always wanted to find that in the stories the bible contains.

    i agree wholeheartedly that there is, as you put it: “…something to be said for reading the Word every day, regardless of whether you feel like it or feel “spiritual.” ” spirituality, and therefore reading the bible, worship, etc. is a discipline, but my question is what do you do, where do you go when there is no guidance from the community you live in to make that discipline a source of life giving hope? you can get up every morning, read the paper, have coffee, go to work by the same route and those things are only disciplines if you do them over and over and over. i am not discounting the holy spirit, but just reading my bible isn’t any more life giving to me than doing the above day in and day out.

    the thing about math is this: if the bible is as real to me as the math i use to pay off my debts, or the stories that feed my imagination that i can rattle off at will then it means that i am using and applying the stories therein DAILY. and daily walk is what the relationship is all about. without application we can have no works and without works, faith is dead.

    right now, my faith feels pretty dead.

    make more sense?

  3. hey girl.

    i’m not there at that exact place right now, but i think i know what you’re talking about. i heard a preacher on the radio say that the Bible is ALIVE. i think that’s true – when one reads it, the Holy Spirit makes it come alive in you. but sometimes the feeling isn’t there. are there apologetical issues, btw? i know about those – not that i have “the answers,” just that i have the questions and frustrations.

    but what’s awesome is that your faith is evident – you seem frustrated, so you seem to really care about where you are with the Bible right now. and you can face up to it! i love authenticity, honesty, genuineness with God and oneself. when I Thes 5:17 says, “pray continually,” that’s the way to go. if the Bible isn’t making sense, isn’t personal, then there ya go! – that’s your current conversation with God. the troubles and seemingly dead ends in life are some of the fodder for “working out our salvation” by talking with Him about it, taking it to Him. hope that wasn’t preachy or discombobulated (sp?), but i get so psyched about that because it’s so freeing for me. it was news to me a few years ago, and i still get happy about it – if i hit a dead end when i’m reading something, don’t know what to do with theology, don’t know what to do next in life, whatever, i don’t have to just sit there and forget about it or worry; i can turn it around and go, “God, i don’t get it. this sucks. what does this mean – teach me.” and we just talk about it. i think that might not be news to you, from the way you write and how much i think i know you, but well, there it is. if i didn’t perk you up, i perked myself up. not that i’m going to be walking around like kathy lee or anything. but i just reminded myself of something good 🙂

    chin up.

    love you.

  4. I guess my thoughts are that the Bible only transforms our lives and overflows us with hope is through the relatinship with God that is fosters. I tend to take a hands-off approach to a lot with God, and the Holy Spirit is kind of the end-all. The Spirit is what does the transforming, while the Bible just gives us truths about God and may help direct us to Him. Actually, at my church as an undergrad, one of the elders had to *stop* reading the Bible and having devotional times for a while, because it was hurting his relationship with God.

    I do agree with you that reading the Bible can be viewed as a discipline. But keep in mind, with spiritual disciplines, the discipline is not the end goal. They are not what gives life. Staying silent, or praying, or fasting, is not the end goal. Rather, it trains you to do other tasks, it trains you not to be mastered, it is a way to improve your relationship with God. Otherwise, it is just an exercise, a routine, like reading the paper or drinking coffee in the morning.

    I do agree with Beth, though–pray for it and search for it. I’ve struggled at times with getting anything out of my quiet time, and have had to pray the prayer, “God, meet me today.” It’s a ridiculously scary thing to pray…what if He doesn’t show? Is it might fault? Is God not real? All of these things go through my mind, so I will sometimes sabotage it and just go through the motions. But when I honestly ask and honestly wait for Him, He has never failed to show up.

    A final thought or so as I finish my diatribe…do you think you can expound on what you mean for the Bible to be “real” to you? Do you have to know the specific verse/lesson you are applying at a given moment to take “credit” for it? In fact, when these lessons become real to us, I would argue it is almost second nature–you don’t notice you are caring for the widow, or feeding the hungry, or living the Kingdom of God when it is happening. Trying to focus on whether we see our works or not will just exasperate us. Just a thought…

  5. the only way to expound is to say this:

    john 1:1-2 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.”

    if i don’t have the word, and the word is with God, and the word is God, then, in a sense, i don’t have God. and that really sucks. i am praying, i am listening, i am working at meeting Him, and allowing Him to meet me. there are a lot of things that get in the way. but i want a deep meaningful understanding of the word. not a surface thing that i pull out when i need it. i want it burned into my soul.

    i am done commenting on this. we don’t see things the same way. forget i even brought it up… i am tired of diatribes.

  6. Hey, girl. Just caught up. I’m sorry you’re hurting and frustrated with this dialogue, but I wanted to say something that I believe will give you hope. It gave me hope.

    All through these verses (1-5) John refers to the Word as “Him”. It’s not a thing, it’s not the Bible. It’s Jesus. Because He is God, “apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (v.3). If you have a desire to follow God, it is coming from the “Word” – from Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. But that verse is only the beginning of John’s gospel story. After Jesus fulfilled His mission & left, He sent the Holy Spirit to minister to us in a very personal way (John 16:7-15). The Holy Spirit is our guide and our Wisdom (2 Corinthians 2:12-15). He’s with you. He loves you.

    Like Rich Mullins says, God sometimes is “just plain hard to get”. When I asked myself questions like yours, a verse in that song really got me. He says, “I can’t see how You’re leading me, unless You’ve led me hear, where I’m lost enough to let myself be led.” That, oddly, is where and when we need our faith to be enough. When it feels like we have the least amount of it. It sucks and it hurts…but you’ll make it.

    I don’t know what He’s working in you, but your desire to continue shows that it is coming from God. Who knows where He will take you? Only He does.

    I love you. I am always praying for you. I hope you take these words with all the love I have for you.

    I’ll try to call you sometime. I feel the need to share and cry with you. I love you.

  7. thanks babe… for all of it. i love you too. and i think in a lot of ways, we are saying the same thing about those verses in john, just slightly differently. that is what has bothered me about where i am with all this (and it is getting better, i promise!). if i don’t have a relationship that is honest and real with the bible, then i don’t have a relationship with God in some ways… i think it is all inclusive. one thing is for sure, like that song you quoted, it is all confusing much of the time…i look forward to your call.

  8. Hey lady, I’ve read all of this and I’ve fussed with it on my own end here, until the deadline for timeliness sank into horizon behind me. I’m sorry about that. You asked for my thoughts, so well….. I think you have a very legitimate concern. Your fondness of God’s relating to your world was vibrant in that last post, and very winning. Then, when you were writing things like “i don’t feel like the bible is at all relevant to me. . .” My heart sank. I’ve heard that private Bible study was what Old Testament Jews refered to as the highest form (not necc. quality) of worship, and why not? I say reality is no truer than when we are in his presence- and that prayerfully engaging Him in/with his Word is as close as we can get to that here.

    You know there is this, that the more we ingest the word (“get myself into the word, and get the word into me”) the more reality takes on a different hue (the more we begin to see reality as God sees it), so perhaps, in part, you’re experiencing the catch-22 where: the world around us being more “real” would help in seeing how the word relates to it. If I may suggest an idea, it helped me to meditate/dwell on those passages that puzzled me, fascinated me, wow’ed and woo’ed me, however few they were. I think scripture is all connected and that our zeal spreads outward; from whereever we’re at, on. For what it is worth.

    Then, as you know, much of the Bible’s literature doesn’t lend itself to casual readin like some of the books on our shelves might. It was written by an omniscient and beautiful Thinker who doesn’t believe in casting pearls before swine. So, I propose, that much it’s reality must needs-be mined. Jesus at least once in his ministry here said something like, “Let him who reads understand.” The Bible as it is is said to be “simple enough for a child to understand but deep enough for a theologian to -drown- in.” God is an artist that rewards diligent attention to his work. Keep pressing on eh? in hopes of his faithfulness.

    Finally, if I may, you mentioned your not having found -any- teachers. preachers, studies that help you in this…. I’d just like to say that it kept coming to mind while I was perusing this post and it’s comments how much you might like the Navigators study I have just been introduced to. I’ll try to get you the info on it. Also, you might like Ravi Zacharias, (Who doesn’t?) 🙂 Anyway, hope that was a worthy comment for such an open post. It’s comforting to read you have some friends who will help you in this. -Ben

    p.s. please forgive typos my eyes are starting to cross. 🙂 (where’s that Coke at?!)

  9. thank you so much! after all the comments, and all the fuss, i am wowed by your insights into my heart. you really seemed to listen. and after all the times when we have crossed one another, it was neat to hear the kind of things that my husband was telling me… so thanks.

    i am working on it. things are coming togther as i try more and more of the ideas that have been placed before me by the friends who have commented. and the more i listen and write, the more i have understood about myself. and about God’s word. i am trying a new bible study that is both comforting and appropriately deep at the same time. it is gentle but honest in it’s approach, and that is what i need.

    i’m off to toledo… thanks for your prayers!!!

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