Perspective Matters

One of my favorite seasons every year is Fall.  Not just because of the weather, the brilliant colors, the return of football, but also because of the return of a weekly Bible study in my life.  While I've struggled in some seasons to maintain consistency in the Word over the summer, this particular summer I commited to reading the whole Bible on a reading plan.  It was a HUGE commitment, one I made very quickly without fully comprehending the time requirement I was signing up for, but also the best decision I made all summer.  Just so no one misinterprets this as an opportunity to toot my own horn, let me humbly tell you, I'm still not done with it.  I'm about half way through but I didn't finish "on time" and for one of the first times in my life, I didn't beat myself up about it.

A funny thing happened as I started out on this journey through the Word, cover to cover...It took about 3 days for me to realize how much I craved God's Word and how satisfying it was to soak it up in huge chunks at a time.  To read it like a story, instead of just chapter by chapter or book by book, was an incredible blessing.  Often we (I) get caught up in topical studies that single out a story or a character or even a subject.  While that's not always a bad thing, if we aren't careful to take into consideration the context and historical details of that passage, it can be a dangerous thing.  It's entirely too easy to misinterpret scripture when we pull verses we "like" out and disregard the place God gave it in the story as a whole.  How many "famous" teachers and preachers do we have to endure who do this on a weekly basis and misrepresent the Lord and His Word?  I'm so thankful for a Church/staff committed to Biblical literacy and leadership who humbly submit themselves to the authority of the scripture and who esteem God's Word to the highest degree.  But even in an environment like that, we have to be so careful and so diligent to know the Word ourselves, so that we aren't the ones who are easily deceived or who are doing the deceiving.

This summer as I started in Genesis and read my way through most of the Old Testament, it was such a refreshing experience to see the Lord in a new way.  For a rule follower and note taker like me, it was freeing to put the pens down and just read.  To begin in the Garden and trace the entrance of sin into a perfect world...To see God's provision for the world, even after He wiped it clean with a watch His chosen people follow Him, reject Him, follow Him, and reject Him again like a broken record, all while He faithfully loved them despite their sin was beautiful.  So many of the stories and characters I first learned about as a kid in Sunday School came flooding back...As a kid it was simple to hear a story and believe with an innocent faith.  Teachers summarized a passage with a one-liner lesson to take home and as a rule-follower, I remembered it.  But as life marches on and people grow up, sometimes our circumstances begin to jade and jab at your faith, and it's easy to get caught up in the "controversies" of the Bible or the things that seem to contradict one another.  Lots of people get hung up there and never do much more than shrug their shoulders and criticize.  They zero in on one thing and forget to take the whole context of the Bible and the character of God into consideration.  Whole religions and cults hinge on this very practice.  But God never meant for us to pick and choose His Words.  It's an all or nothing deal.

One thing I love about the Lord is that He is always working things out in our lives before we ever have any idea.  He often prompts us or directs us to obey during a particular season, even if we don't understand why.  When Fall Bible Study rolled around this year and I sat in the first week of teaching to hear the overview of what we would be studying this year, He reminded me of a big reason He took me through that summer reading plan.  We are doing a study this year that overviews some of the big stories throught the Old Testament and through the life of Christ.  Looking at the Bible from a big picture perspective and tracing the thread of redemption through the love story God has written.  Everything I read this summer impacted me the first time through, but now I'm getting the privilege of going through it a second time and really focusing on the truths of each major event.  However, my biggest take away so far has nothing to do with reading about some familiar "heroes" of the faith but instead focusing on one thing that one of our teaching leaders pointed out. 

The goal of studying the Bible isn't so we can learn more about what some of the great men and women of faith did or didn't do.  Too many people get hung up on things like the technicalities of why Adam sinned or how David was a man after God's own heart even though he had several wives.  While those details do matter and often give us a clue about something the Lord wants us to know, the point of each story, of each person is ultimately to point us to Christ.  To teach us more about who He is and what He has done.  As I listened to her remind us about the importance of perspective, I thought about how often I've viewed the Bible from a skewed perspective.  I've read the story of Noah and the flood and spent too much time thinking about how scary it was for the animals or how righteous Noah must have been to have been chosen by the Lord to survive.  While those are both interesting parts of the story, they don't tell the whole thing.  God's mercy and provision and judgement are huge takeaways from the flood, not the logistics of how the animals fit into the ark.  We always want to pull back from the individual details to see how they connect to the bigger picture of redemption.  What does this story/person show us about the Lord?  What does it have to do with the coming of Christ?  It's so key to focus on that because when we focus on the Lord and the bigger picture, then the correct applications and interpretations come to the surface.  And if we're wise, we need to always be concerned with keeping our interpretions correct and right.  Because while there are many applications from a particular passage, there is ALWAYS only ONE right interpretation. 

God has impressed that so strongly on my heart in this season of life.  As a Mom who stays home with small children everyday, it's easy to get lost in the nitty, gritty details of the day.  Wiping noses, doing dishes and picking up toys (for the tenth time that day) can consume us and fill us with resentment and bitterness if we aren't careful.  But when we're careful to pull back and think about the big picture, the calling of motherhood and the way these critical years fly by, it's easier to swallow one more load of laundry and another deep breath when a child is hurting and they need you to comfort them.  When we keep our perspective in check, obedience naturally follows.  It's the same with God's word.  I'm learning to ask more and more, "What are you trying to show me about who YOU are Lord?"  and not just "What does this have to do with ME Lord?"  It's not an easy mental shift, but it's key in becoming more Christ like and growing in my faith. 

His story is all over every page of His Word and to quote my favorite Children's Bible, every story whispers His name...So what is He teaching you today about who HE is?  What truth has He reminded you about or what part of His character has He impressed on you?  It's good to have things we need to work on and to learn lessons from those who have gone before us, but ultimately it all points to Him. 
If you haven't heard His voice for awhile, I'm praying you'll be faithful to open His Word and look for Him there...You'll find Him.  He promises that... 

I'm praying you have a blessed week, friends...
If you need a fresh start or you're like me and just need to pull back from being so consumed with self... Remember that His mercies are new every morning and His faithfulness is great...

He created a rescue plan with you and I in mind and He wrote the world's greatest love story to convince us...If you're looking for a great read, I can recommend the greatest book of all time.

And if you seriously don't have one of your own, let me know and I will get one to you.  Nothing would make this little blog of mine more worth it, than to serve you in that way.  It's the best read you'll ever find and He's the greatest Savior of all time.  The ONLY Savior actually...

1 comment:

Ron and Peggy said...

You made things so simple Stephanie. Really admire how you burn off the dross and find the gold. It is called dross, isn't it?