Sunday, August 22, 2004

Sitting Outside

I went to church today - sort of. I went but I didn't go in. I've done this three times during the last four weeks. I go with my wife and kids. My wife goes to the service, my kids go to their class, and I sit outside and read the Psalms. I'm up to Psalm 65 now.

I'm not sure why I'm doing this, except that for a long time now, the services have just left me flat. I go to church to worship God and commune with him, and it hasn't really been happening. I think it's happening for other people - my wife, for example - but not for me. So I sit outside and read Psalms.

And you know what? I'm coming away from it really deeply refreshed!

It is interesting to see David in these psalms. David crying over his sins. David proclaiming his innocence. David asking God to avenge him. David complaining that God has abandoned him. David rejoicing in God. It's David all over the place, just like us, and each Sunday God seems to speak through these words to my heart. Today I was really struck by Psalm 42:11:

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

I was a bit droopy this morning, and David's heart echoed mine and added that note of hope: "For I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God." Amen!

I'm well aware of the admonition in the book of Hebrews not to abandon meeting together with other believers, and I do meet with friends. I'm not trying to be rebellious, I just want to connect better with God, and that seems to be happening in this way.

I've thought that I could do this at home, but there's always something distracting at home. This hour is totally devoted to God, there's nobody around, the weather is warm, and I'm having a great time, though the activity seems a bit odd and I'm not sure for how long I'll do it.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Chopping Apart Psalm 23

I was reading today in the Psalms, and relating what I read to what I wrote earlier about the role of "story" in postmodern Christianity.

The Twenty-Third Psalm in particularly struck me (this is, of course, the wonderful "The Lord is my shepherd" psalm). It is so beautiful and speaks so deeply to my heart, and I wonder whether I would have the same great experience with it if I was to chop it apart verse by verse and try to understand it segment by segment. I think this is the objection postmodernists would pose toward looking at Psalm 23 in this manner.

And I'd agree with them. The answer is no. I would not have the same great experience. The story aspect of it would be ruined. I don't think it would speak to my heart in the same way at all. But on the other hand, in the past I have looked at it in that manner and pondered it verse by verse, and that has been good in a different way.

This kind of reinforces my feeling that looking at the scriptures as story shouldn't prevent us from looking for truths within the story. Sometimes I think we should simply read for the story, and at other times dig out the truths that lie within the story.

Perhaps those - like myself - who have mostly read the Bible for specific nuggets of truth should take a break and read the Bible as story and let it speak to our hearts instead of just to our minds. And perhaps others who read for story and how it speaks to their hearts should take an occasional break and dig for the truths that are contained in the passage.