Lectio THEN (June 2, 2009)
“impotent muttering” and “ask of me”
At first “impotent muttering” spoke to me as I thought about negative talk that has no power, especially as I’m still licking my wounds over a recent experience of what feels like unfair criticism. As I extend my meditation to include “ask of me”, and put the two phrases together, they take on new meaning. Unless I ask of God, my plans are like impotent muttering. Of course, I know this in some way – that I need to be in conversation with God about what I want and what I’m thinking and dreaming about, but it hasn’t taken root completely in my heart. There are seeds, though. The seeds of so much are in my head, but haven’t yet found fertile ground in my heart.
As I told God that my desire is to bring everything to her so that I would not make futile plans, all she said to me was “goooood”, long and slow. Then, with a twinkle in her eye, she handed me a piece of boysenberry pie.
I’m fascinated by the images of seeds and berries, and bearing fruit, that fruit that remains and sticks to your ribs. It feels like that pie is an image of eating, nay feasting on Scripture. And how interesting that it’s not a salad or something super healthy, but something rich, to be deliciously savored.
And then she said “eat up!” Is she trying to fatten me up?
Lectio NOW (September 28, 2010)
“lest he be angry and your way come to nothing” (NJB)
After thinking yesterday about the “ways” we choose in life, I was drawn to this phrase in Psalm 2 today. What would cause my “way to come to nothing”?
As usual, at least for me, when I began reading in this Psalm about the kings and princes of the earth plotting together, I thought about “them”. You know, anyone but me and “us”. The old “us” versus “them” routine. And “we” like to believe that God is on “our” side and not on “theirs”. “We” are righteous simply by virtue of asking God to bless our endeavors, never mind that “they” are asking God to do the same. The proof of whose side God is on is in the result; whoever wins the showdown obviously has the favor of God.
But a while back I began reading myself into the “them” in the Psalms, and they became much more poignant, much harder to read, and much more life-giving when I allowed myself to really enter into them. So what happens when I see myself as conspiring against, or merely without God? I make my big plans for my life, and then I ask God to bless them, etc, and then I’m shocked and disappointed when things don’t work out the way I’d planned. What gives? I did everything by the book, didn’t I?
It seems, for me and my tendencies, the key is in verse 11: “In fear be submissive to Yahweh”. Boy, we sure don’t like that word, “submissive” do we? At least I don’t. Not just because I want to be free and independent, and not just because I want to do things my way (those things are all perfectly true, by the way), but also because I don’t want to hide behind “submission”. It’s easy to not take responsibility for oneself, one’s actions, thoughts, feelings, etc, when they have to be submitted to another for approval or decision. We’re really good at scapegoating and pointing the finger of blame elsewhere – or maybe that’s just me.
But then I think again about that tree in Psalm 1, allowing the word of God to wash over its roots, and basking in the presence of God through prayer. And when I come to God for God’s sake, to be fed and nourished and just to be with God — and not just to go over my own agenda and have my plans sanctioned – that’s submission. And when I am moved and prompted into action or into a new way of being through Scripture and through prayer, those are the “ways” that will not come to nothing.
“Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest… my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11.28,30). When I think about the enormity of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection that seems like an incredibly ridiculous thing to say. His burden is light? “Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (verse 29).
Jesus himself was submissive to God. Yes, we could stand to learn a thing or two from him. Maybe then we would experience the last line of the psalm “how blessed are all who take refuge in him!”
How’s your prayer life? Does it consist of more than a “to-do” list for God? Does God have opportunity to get a word in?