Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Musings: The Word Preaches Itself

            Wednesday evening I attended the midweek service at my husband’s adopted church In Maryland. Gene’s been working at Andrews Air Force Base all summer, and he chose this particular Baptist church and stuck with it. When he worked at Ft. Drum a few years ago, he found a Presbyterian church he liked and even sang in their choir. 

            What struck me Wednesday night in Maryland, and I mentioned it in Sunday School in Pennsylvania, is that often what I learn in a church setting is not necessarily what the pastor is trying to teach me. I can possibly attribute this phenomenon to two factors:  my personality and the power of God’s Word.

I hope that includes those
who wander in the Word.
            I’m a wanderer. I turn to the passage the pastor says, but then I wander off while he’s talking about it. I look back. I look ahead. And I find something I need to know, to believe, to obey, to wrestle with. Some of my best ideas have come while I’ve been a silent captive in a stained-glass cell:  Advent readings, devotions, song lyrics, lesson plans.

            So that’s the “me” part, but then there’s God’s part. His Word (according to His Word) has innate power to preach itself without any help from the preacher. For example, Isaiah 55:10 – 11 (NIV) records God saying,

God Words is purposeful, like rain.
As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven, and do not return to it
    without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

This may have been the sword Paul had in mind.
            And the author of the epistle to the Hebrews writes, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (4:12, NIV)

            The Isaiah passage encourages me as a teacher of Bible to high school students, while the Hebrews passage strikes terror in my innermost being. Isaiah is warm and fuzzy, while Hebrews is as comforting as a sword covered in my own blood.

            Wednesday evening the preacher whose name I never caught, but whose Southern accent I remember, was teaching from Micah 7 and a bunch of other passages. About what? I can’t recall. But I remember being struck by a few lines in Micah 7:18 and I highlighted them and made a note in my Kindle Bible:

Who is a God like You, removing iniquity and passing over rebellion for the remnant of His inheritance? He does not hold onto His anger forever, because He delights in faithful love. (HCSB)

            The note I added:  “The two can’t co-exist.” 

Anger and faithful love—mercy in other translations—can’t live together. They have incompatibility problems, irreconcilable differences. One of them has to move out. God packed anger’s bags and sent it packing because he preferred mercy’s delightful company. 

            What a splendid insight! How pleased I was with myself! Until the double-edged sword twisted. What about me? As God’s child, I should imitate him. 

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us…Ephesians 5:1, 2 (NKJV)

            But somehow I keep the bad roommate around. I tend to feed anger and starve mercy. It’s an ongoing struggle, maybe like an addiction. I quit anger like some people quit smoking:  often and with no lasting effect. 

            So God’s Word, with little or no prompting from the preacher, reminded me to keep wrestling with this. Keep praying about it. Keep trying to imitate my Father. Keep basking in his mercy.

            I hope to make Monday Musings a regular blog feature, highlighting happenings—sometimes sacred, sometimes silly—of Sunday School, Worship, or Children’s Church.

             Tune in tomorrow for another new feature, Top Ten List Tuesdays.

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