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Friday, April 15, 2005

Eyes to See

In Subversive Spirituality, Eugene Peterson begins with this statement:
"We are accustomed to believing that the Holy Spirit inspired the content of the Scriptures (2 Tim 3:16), but it is just as true that the form itself is inspired, this new literary form that we call the gospel." (p5)
Peterson is reminding us that it's not just the "truths" that are true; the forms in which they are given are also inspired. God speaks to us in a form that is perfectly crafted to convey precisely what he intends. This isn't just true of Scripture - it's true of all creation. God says everything points us back to him, it tells us of his glory. God gives us all our senses, and then he invites us to see! hear! taste! touch!

God speaks to us through images - the bread and the wine of his supper, the sunset outside my window - and God speaks to us through story. In short, he does not come simply to engage our intellect; he comes to engage us heart, soul, mind, and strength. He will have all of us; he will settle for nothing less.

Peterson says something else as well:
"The moment we formulate our doctrines, draw up our moral codes, and throw ourselves into a life of ministry apart from a continuous re-immersion in the story itself, we walk right out of the presence of God and set up our own shop."
He's right too. This is not to say our doctrine is not important - it's vital. But we can know all the "facts" about God and still miss out on a relationship with him.

I've been thinking a lot about my own relationship with Christ these past few days. We're at that point in the school year where the demands of this life start squeezing the joy out of my soul. And surprisingly, this has actually been a blessing, because it's forced me to think about what I really want - relationship with God; fellowship and friendship with him.

And in the midst of all this, I've realized that the pressure is not really the problem - that's just the vehicle which brings my sin to the surface. What I really need is to figure out how to draw near to God in the midst of the whirlwhind. So that's what I'm going to be focusing on over these coming months. Reconnecting with God in his story.

Of course it won't be easy. It may even require some extreme measures, because relationship takes time, and that's the one thing I never have enough of. But it should be interesting, to say the least.

I know already that I need to adjust my priorities - both with school and with blogging. That probably means less writing between now and the end of May. It also means I need to rethink my study habits - I have spent years training myself to be a very good student, and I may need to actually unlearn some of those habits now. School is important, but it's not most important.

At this point, I need to see more of Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith (Heb 12:2). I want to engage my senses in the God who is speaking to me. I want to know him, talk with him, be engaged by him. I don't see him nearly as well as I desire, but I do see him, and I long for more. He has promised to reveal himself, and I am looking forward to the journey.

Lord, give me eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart that is drawn to you!


At 7:41 PM, April 15, 2005, Blogger Anne said...

OK, that settles it. I've got to read some Eugene Peterson. My bro-in-law (a PCA pastor) has been raving about his books. Thanks for sharing.

At 8:13 PM, April 15, 2005, Blogger Christian said...

I've heard lots about him, but this is the first I've actually read; I saw a copy in the bookstore and thought "that looks interesting!" (just what I need, another book right now :-) But I picked up a copy anyway and read the first chapter tonight. What I've seen so far looks good...

At 8:53 PM, April 15, 2005, Blogger Anne said...

Bro-in-law says "Contemplative Pastor" is a good place to start, but he recommended "Answering God" for me. It's on hold at the library (miracle of miracles that they had it!), and I'm looking forward to reading it.

At 9:50 PM, April 15, 2005, Blogger Mark Traphagen said...

I was there when Christian picked up the book. I chased him out before he could buy more, telling him that I needed him writing, not reading!

But I'm glad to see that the reading turned into more wonderful writing for me to enjoy.

At 9:32 AM, April 16, 2005, Anonymous Uncle Jake said...

People see adversity, God sees opportunity.

God wants us to delight in Him, but we tend to want to understand that in the same way a child says "Okay, so what is for dessert?"

And God responds, "Well, for dinner we are having Brussel Sprouts....."

And Brussel sprouts are really good if they are done right (fresh, lightly blanched, then given a warm bath in fresh Hollendaise sauce, which gently washes the precious fishes lying right next to it atop a bed of skillet potatoes).

I am glad to hear that you have decided to study less just in time for finals :)

Oh, and for dessert, God tells us it is homemade rice pudding fresh from the oven drenched in real cream.

But clean your plate first.....

At 10:17 AM, April 16, 2005, Blogger Molly said...

Christian, thanks for your comments, which express the struggle of nearly every seminary student, I suspect. It just so happens that you're an excellent student and you are passionate about many things, so your struggle is intensified.

Nevertheless, your passion to pursue our Lord in relationship is an encouragement. I hope we all join together to pray that our eyes will be set on that which is most important in the coming weeks.

Of course, don't expect me to be posting much, either!

At 10:20 AM, April 16, 2005, Blogger Molly said...

By the way, your original comment that the forms in which God's truth is given to us is also inspired reminded me of a nearly unrelated thought that I had yesterday while researching for a paper.

I was reading about Hebrew poetry and realized how amazing it is that the particular form of poetry that the ancient Hebrews used - using imagery and parallelism, rather than meter or rhyme - makes it particularly amenable to translation because the translators don't have to try to force their language to accommodate a foreign format. I just thought that was really cool!

At 10:35 AM, April 16, 2005, Blogger Christian said...

Molly: Dang, that's cool about Hebrew poetry! How come I didn't know that? (oh yeah, maybe if I studied... ;-)

Uncle Jake: Hey little brother! Good to see you tuning in, and even nicer to hear your thoughts. Keep praying for us, and save us some precious fishes... ;-)

At 6:27 PM, April 16, 2005, Anonymous Uncle Jake said...


Do not fret over me saving little fishes for you. I am too busy to go fishing. I haven't wet a line in about,...... well I can't remember last when. Imagine me saying that!

Tell Micah that if I didn't give him enough suggestions to stave away the boredom, he can always come and split wood. I split and stacked @ a cord today. He can choose the 8 lb. maul, the 6 lb. maul, the axe, or the 8 lb. sledge and splitting wedge :)

I also found someone for you to chat with. He is about 23, has a Gen. Eng. Degree, works as a construction super, goes to GVPC, and is interested in going to Missoula to help start a church.

Oh, and if anyone else is listening, HE IS SINGLE.......


I will talk to you more about him later. We are having him over for lunch tomorrow. I think your two personalities are close enough to click, but not close enough to annoy.

Bear season started today, but I don't know if my schedule (or my wife)can handle me triapsing through the woods. Can I reach Malachi at The House now?


At 6:42 PM, April 16, 2005, Blogger Christian said...

Big Jake: Yep, Malachi is in Montana, where his baseball season is underway. You can reach him at the homestead, and I'm sure he'd be tickled pink if you offered to take him out looking for a bear... (Of course, I will be totally envious if you actually get one!)


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