Tag Archives: Bible

Help for the Spiritually Scattered

Maybe if you’re a parent, you’ve heard the term bandied around — “executive functioning.”  It’s a set of skills that some of us, well, lack — the ability to be efficient, be organized, Get It Together.  It comes up in conversation along with words like underperforming, procrastination, and Attention Deficit Disorder.  It’s my nemesis.  And as I was researching how to help my sadly saddled child, inheritor of my weaknesses, I got to thinking about how this scatterbrained tendency impacts people spiritually.  Where does a person start a project that huge, a lifetime of walking with God?  How can you whittle down a thousand page book to a do-able daily goal?

That’s where this article was born, and I hope it offers some of y’all a breath of fresh air.  “Ten Verses for the Spiritually Scattered”

Photo on Visualhunt

What if a book…

What if a book had the power to change the temperature of your life, stir warmth into a cold heart, light a fire in a stale room?  What if a book had the power to speak so directly to your soul that it seemed the author had been peering into your windows day after day?  What if a book awakened something deep inside you that you didn’t even know was there—a vision, a dream, a purpose lying dormant?

What if there was a book that spelled out directions to hidden treasure?  Would you cherish it, like Indiana Jones’ father?  Mark it up?  Follow its improbable guidance to the ends of the earth?  (Wait, it says to go where?  To take a leap now?)

We are a people of the book, whose ancestors painstakingly copied line by line, counting each letter, lining things up.  So highly our book was revered, so many times our book was copied, that they’ve found 5,686 ancient Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, compared to 7 of Plato.  And those copies, widespread as they were, are exceedingly accurate, down to the last “jot and tittle.”  On islands off the coast of Scotalnd the words were embellished with gold foil, made into works of art.  In prisons and underground churches they are memorized in chunks, etched on walls, torn carefully apart and reverently passed around.  Why?

Here is a book that illuminates the wonders of everyday (Do you give the horse his might?  Do you clothe his neck with a mane?  Do you make him leap like the locust?…)

the comical (Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?)

and the cosmic (When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?)

It is a book that articulates our own great doubts (Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless!)

our passions (Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!)

our insecurities (You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?)

and our fervent hopes (Your sins are forgiven.)

It takes in the sweep of a grand, epic history, from the very dawn of time, through battles and triumphs and tragedies, right down to the most intimate, personal desires of your heart.

It has the power to rescue you from a tumbleweed existence and plant you like a mighty oak tree.



In Charleston, SC there is a tree reckoned to be over 400 years old, called by locals the Angel Oak.  Through countless hurricanes it has endured, well anchored by roots that must rival what we see above the surface:  28 feet in circumference, 17,200 square feet of shade under its branches, which stretch, tip to tip, 187 feet across.  That tree has withstood all that the Atlantic Ocean can hurl its way, has survived invading colonists and centuries of human need and greed.  That tree, serene, vibrates with life, like a soul planted heart-deep in one old book.

What if there was a book that offered you the fortitude to face your addictions, traded your anxiety for peace, made you flexible instead of fragile, taught you to cope with life’s hurricanes?  What if there was a book that vibrated with life, startled you witless when you opened it up, spoke again and again to the conditions of your world?

What if, in a simple book, you discovered the great friendship of your life?

Why on earth wouldn’t you dive in, day after day, and drink deep?

I don’t know the answers…

Lately I’ve been wondering:  How does God speak?

How does God speak to you?  Does He speak the same way to everyone?  Did He speak the same way to everyone in days of old?  Is Scripture the only way God speaks?

How can God speak through Scripture when it’s not in front of us?  If we have committed Scripture to memory just a little bit wrong, can that create a problem?  If He speaks to us in other ways, how can we hear Him?  How can we discern what is God what is Not God?  How can Satan distort what we hear?  What’s the danger of saying, “God told me…”?

If God’s Word is living and active, can it have both a primary meaning for the original audience and many layers of meaning for new situations and generations?  How does the Bible intend itself to be used?

How do you approach the study of Scripture?  Systematically?  Scatter shot?  Have you ever been surprised by the relevance of a passage you came upon in a regularly scheduled reading plan?  Does God have sovereignty over the calendar?

If you hear no direct answer when you seek God’s will, guidance, or counsel, what does this mean?  Is He not listening?  Does He withhold an answer sometimes?  What should we do in that circumstance?  Is it disappointing when He is quiet?  Can we find an answer in His Word?

Is it better to keep asking under the theory that it is good to persevere, or to remain silent under the theory that He already heard and is firmly in control?  How does His silence present an opportunity for relationship?

What does it mean that Jesus is the Word?  The Word is a person?  What’s the role of the Holy Spirit in prayer?  How does He assist in decision-making?  How do you know?  Jesus said His sheep know His voice — what does it sound like?  Is it easily duplicated?  Is ear-tickling the tactic only of bad preachers, or also of devils?  Does God speak through our emotions, our minds, our circumstances, or in our ears?  Does He still use visions and dreams?  Is there anything that constrains God to use particular means in speaking to us?

If you felt like God did indeed impress something on you, would you take action immediately?  What if you don’t?  What if you do?  Does God ever say one thing at one time and then contradict Himself?  If God never contradicts Himself, why do we, over time, stray from what we believe He first said?  If God never contradicts Himself, how can Scripture be useful in approving what we feel we have heard?

Do you listen to the Lord?  Do you expect to hear Him?  Do you diligently keep a pen handy to write down what you hear?  Do you expect to hear Him on a range of topics, or only certain things?  How detailed is God?

Does He care what cereal I eat for breakfast?

Does He care what music I listen to, which route I take to arrive somewhere, or whether I speak to strangers at the grocery store, or are certain things outside His purview?  If He does care about these things, do I ask His opinion about them?  How do I tune my heart to hear Him?

If you knew that God would speak to you 100 times today but you would hear him only once or twice, how would you feel?  Is this the state of things?  If you believed that the Bible had specific things to say to your situation moment by moment, would you treat it differently? If God spoke to you every day for thirty thousand days, would there be paper enough to write it all down?

If He spoke to me just once, would I be all astonishment?

Have I paid attention to the ways the created world speaks, giving God glory?  How does the Bible unpack the redemptive analogies present in nature?  Does God continue to speak in metaphor through advancing knowledge of creation?  That is to say, is there more to hear?

How do different faith communities approach these questions?  What is there to learn from different camps?  How did heroes of the faith, theologians, and sages, understand these things from different angles?  Am I dogmatic about this?  Should I be?  How earnestly do I seek wisdom in hearing God?  Is there perhaps uncharted territory for me in listening to Him?

What might God have to say to me today?

From Annie Dillard, The Writing Life:  “Rebbe Shmelke of Nickolsburg, it was told, never really heard his teacher, the Maggid of Mezritch, finish a thought because as soon as the latter would say ‘and the Lord spoke,’ Shmelke would begin shouting in wonderment, ‘The Lord spoke, the Lord spoke,’ and continue shouting until he had to be carried from the room.”

Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.