Who Reads the Forward Anyway?

I’ve had this book on my shelf for months now, even took it on a trip or two hoping to find the right moment to start it. Last week, in the middle of the night… you guessed it-

I started the book:  Your God is too Safe: Rediscovering the Wonder of a God You Can’t Control by Mark Buchanan.

I picked it up at the bookstore because a dear friend and co-worker had given me one of his other books: The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath ; she had given it to me for “summer reading”.  I was determined that my husband and I would have a real vacation –away from even the thought of work.  I took that book along, although I didn’t finish it while we were on vacation, I did finish it not long after returning home. I would highly recommend it if you find that you are meeting yourself coming and going and feel like there’s no rest anywhere in the near future.

Ok, back to the book I started the other night. I don’t usually read the forward of a book very often. However, God had something different planned for me with this book. The forward is written by Eugene Peterson. He’s the man responsible for The Message.

I have been captivated by his comments:

“An accurate understanding of the formation of the Christian Life requires three things: stories well told, Scriptures sharply imagined, and language skillfully used. All three are essential.“

 

“When Scripture is depersonalized, we lose access to the very ground beneath our feet.”

 

“Language is the primary means by which life develops and matures…”

 

“Nothing about us is more life generating, life deepening and life enduring than our use of language.”

How profound.

I identify with a story well told. That’s why I read. 

When I read Scripture, I know there are good stories there. Reading it puts my imagination to work and the rich language draws me in on every page.  

I think about Noah’s Ark, Moses in the bullrushes or Job and his friends; Esther and the King; Ruth, Naomi and Boaz; David and Goliath; Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego; John the Baptist; the resurrection of Lazarus; Jesus come to earth; Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding because His mother asked; His meeting with the woman at the well; His resurrection; Cornelius and Peter and others.

These are stories well told-all of them- they grab me, hold my attention and ignite my imagination. When I read Scripture, I am there, in those stories.  I learn from their experiences.  I take those stories with me and I take a phrase, a sentence, a verse that I remember and recall when faced with a challenge, a relationship in danger, a child who needs more, a job that holds me captive, a friend that needs a word of comfort.

This is how Dr. Peterson relates the importance of story:

“Only story provides the diction and syntax that reveals the unique particular, the inner identity, and the intricate web of relationships that account for who we are- our life.”

 When I write, when I share my story, when I find that I’ve been able to turn a phrase into something that touches another human being; I find my life is enriched. He gave me my story to give away to others. In doing so He has validated my life.

“Hallelujah! Thank God! Pray to him by name! Tell everyone you meet what he has done!” Psalm 105:1(The Message)

 

He has given all of us a story. Maybe it’s time to tell yours?

 

Disclaimer: I have not received any compensation for mentioning these books, nor will I receive anything if you click through to the links above- they are solely for your benefit.  

A Challenge from Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The following words came from an email devotional that I received from Michael Card, the musician, a few years ago. 

 

“While I was at Western Kentucky University, Eberhard Bethge, the great biographer of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, shared a story with us. Bonhoeffer was discipling a group of young men in a secret underground seminary during World War II. The regimen required students to meditate on a passage of Scripture for two hours a day. 

After only a few days, some of the men complained to Bonhoeffer that their minds were wandering. It was unreasonable, they told the amused Bonhoeffer, to require this of them when they had so many worries at home. He told them to stop trying to fight it. “Follow your mind wherever it goes,” he said. “Follow it until it stops and then, wherever it stops, make that person or problem a matter for prayer. The struggling only leads to more noise and inner turmoil.”- Michael Card

 

It made such an impression on me that I wanted to share this with you and challenge you to try to meditate on a scripture passage yourself. It matters not whether it’s a small or large passage. I myself chose only one verse. I did end up meditating on it for quite sometime and wrote down the impact it made upon me and yes, it was a subject for prayer-long, intense prayer. Perhaps there’s something that you are struggling with-this may help you as it’s helped me. I’ve since done it with other verses and it’s still amazing to me what I’ve discovered about myself and the people and situations who come to mind that the Lord wanted me to pray over.