For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Have you ever heard a multi-instrumentalist play? Recently I was at a banquet that had live jazz music. The young man providing the entertainment was extraordinary, switching effortlessly between instruments throughout the songs, even playing them at the same time.* Imagine a sharply dressed musician playing an oboe, with a saxophone hanging around his neck, while tapping a snare with his foot and then using his free hand to hit the keyboard during off beats. And there's a guitar beside him on deck for the next song. Yeah. The music itself was beautiful, smooth, and flawless. There was a fullness to it, because this gentlemen was integrating all these ways of making music. So many gifts were on display. It was beautiful to see the depth of music that resulted.
That image came to me today as I thought about one of our LifePath conversations this weekend. As we explore various pathways to Jesus (spiritual disciplines), this week our topic was reading scripture.
Yes, reading the Bible can be very complicated and confusing, because of the many interpretations and the many ways that it has been wielded to harm people. But like many complicated things, it doesn't mean we should give up on the incredible gift of the Spirit-infused word of God that ultimately points us to Jesus.
I know many of you are not a part of my local church. But I'd like to share/remind thisTogether for Good crew of one of the opportunities this week that is worth leaning into. I want to invite you to embrace the many different ways that scripture can help us encounter God. God has given us a variety of avenues to encounter God's story. It's not all percussion... it's not all brass. And if we use all of these gifts that are at our disposal, we will open ourselves up to encounter Jesus in a fresh way that is wholly beautiful in its various expressions.
We often act like there's only one way to make music when we encounter the Bible: Read something. Think about it. Continue with your day.
But there are many unique ways of engagement that can bring depth and richness. God has given us various avenues to hear from the spirit in the scriptures. It's time to play more than one instrument.
So at the risk of being overly practical and less inspirational this week, I want to encourage us to get pick up some new approaches and see what sort of music God brings forth. Trust that God is active and longing to speak into your life.
Take a passage like Ephesians 3:14-21, or a story from the gospels.
One day, try "Lectio Divina" (sacred reading)- Read the passage 3 times, slowly. What word or phrase does your mind stop on? Pause. Ask God why this is coming to the front and what God may be stirring in you.
One day, turn the passage into a prayer throughout your day.
One day, read the passage in different translations than you're used to. What are you noticing and what hits you fresh about the love of Jesus?
One day, memorize one or more verses. We often don't talk about the power of having God's faithfulness etched in our minds during the moments when we need them most. It's a powerful practice.
One day, share with a friend what you are hearing/learning, and ask them the same thing. Learn from each other and go beyond your own perspective.
The ultimate purpose of Scripture is to point us to Jesus. At least that's what Jesus said (John 5:39), and I believe it. Let's trust that as we encounter the grand story with that expectation, we will indeed find what we are seeking. Let's step into it with fresh eyes and this week and in fresh ways, trusting that Jesus will keep shaping us into the sort of people who love God and love our neighbors more each day. There's always more of God's goodness to discover. What a gift.
Jesus, transform me through the story that ultimately leads to you.
*Aaron Quarterman was the musician I so admired. Please check him out here!