I am a writer, minister’s wife, and English teacher, so it’s very hard for me to read or process anything without picking it apart, putting it into lesson form, or grading it. As much as I hate to admit it and people will hate to hear it, I do use a red pen in my head when people talk. Compulsively, I reorder misplaced and dangling modifiers, correct double negatives (more people do this than you might think), and force subjects and verbs to agree.
On that topic (sorry…can’t help myself), when deciding whether to use the words “there are” or “there is (there’s),” look at the noun or pronoun following the verb. If it is plural, use “there are.” If it is singular, use “there is.” For instance, there is (there’s) a bird on the roof, but there are birds on the telephone line. Please don’t tell me there’s birds in the tree. That’s free. You’re welcome.
I also analyze sermons, force television shows into plot diagrams, and bullet-point casual conversation in my head. It’s weird, I know, but I’m just wired that way. More and more, I think I was put on this earth to communicate the abstract, to bring order to chaos, and to teach and equip anyone who wants to learn what I know–which isn’t always a lot! When I’m doing these things, I’m at my best, full of energy, purposeful, happy, but there is a down side. It’s hard to turn off even for a little while.
I would love to be able to watch a movie without looking for anachronisms or have a conversation without wondering whether the flow is inductive or deductive. I’d especially like to have a personal Bible study without wondering what might be the best way to teach the passage I’m reading to children, teenagers, then adults and what illustrations and/or analogies might really drive the point home.
I know there’s a good chance that I’m the only one that does these things, but I feel pretty confident that I’m not the only one who finds myself approaching Bible study with distant objectivity from time to time. If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “That’ll preach,” “So-and-so needs to hear this,” or “Well, maybe I’m just a three-point Calvinist,” then you are a little more like me than you might realize.
No, really, I am. I’m sure that you, like me, are a little jealous when you hear people talking about their quiet time as if they just had coffee with God. I’m sure that, every once in a while, you’d like to hang out with Jesus, too, and just enjoy His company like other people do instead of feeling like you are studying for a test or packing your bags against impending doom and destruction every time you pick up your Bible.
If so, let me encourage you. Now, this won’t seem like a big deal or anything new to those of you who have been blessed with the ability to “let go and let God” with minimal conscious effort, but you type A personalities (and ministerial types) might benefit from the recent breakthrough I had.
Some friends of mine recently lost their son to leukemia (it’s actually a much longer story than that). Their pain is too great and too profound for me to even attempt to capture it in words, so I won’t try. Anyway, the daddy of this sweet child mentioned in a Facebook post that he had been listening to a voice message on his cell phone over and over just to hear his precious son’s raspy little voice again.
Reading this, I felt my friend’s pain–at least in part–for a split second and bawled like a baby.
I get it. There’s nothing more comforting than hearing a loved one’s voice. When my husband Todd is out of town, I wait for his call like a teenager. The pictures on my phone are not enough. When my kids are sad or struggling, I have to hear their voices to know if they are really okay. When I’m upset about something and trying to be brave about it, my mother’s voice is my undoing. I have dozens of pictures of my grandparents, but the occasional dreams in which I hear their voices are treasured gifts.
What I really want is to hear God’s voice.
I know He’s near as surely as I know the ground I’m standing on is solid. I feel His presence. I see His reflection in the world around me. I have no doubts.
But I want to hear His voice.
I’ve been told that the Bible is God’s love letter to mankind, to me. Now, I could argue against that statement if I were feeling ornery, but I won’t. It’s a nice thought, and, on some level, it’s true. However, I realized that I’ve been approaching my Bible like a textbook, a horoscope at times, and I’ve been missing out.
So, I’m trying something new. Throwing my normal Bible study habits out the window for now, I’ve started picking up my Bible and reading it just because, no daily reading requirement, no list of questions to answer, no writing project or Sunday school lesson in mind. When my writer, minister’s wife, English teacher self shows up, I tell her to hush and take a seat.
In doing so, I’ve experienced in a fresh way something I already knew to be true. Did you know that the ragged, twenty-year-old study Bible that’s traveled with me to school, camp, church, etc., the one I read every day is, in fact, the inspired Word of God?
I’d almost forgotten.
In essence, it is a printed recording of my Heavenly Father’s voice. When I open my heart and allow the Holy Spirit to bring it to life, I hear God’s voice, feel the vibrations of it in my soul much as I imagine a deaf person experiences the voice of a loved one by placing his fingers gently hands on their throat and watching their mouth move. A miracle, really.
While it’s true that His words are sometimes difficult to accept–like everyone else, I need a lot of correction–I love the feel of my Father’s voice and welcome anything and everything He wants to say to me, pleasant or unpleasant though it may be to hear in the moment.
He loves me, and I trust Him.
Like a lullaby, God’s Word soothes my soul. Like affection, His voice thrills my heart. Lately, I can’t get enough, and I keep reading just because.