Tuesday, September 9, 2008

96 Verses

96 verses.

The young pastor of a local former house church preached 96 verses. From the Old Testament.

96 verses from the book of ....I forgot, but it had the word cubit in it, many times. The passages were God's explicit instructions on how to build the Ark of the Covenant, the Table, the Lamp stand and the veil and curtains of the movable, portable dwelling of the Presence of the Lord, prior to His incarnation.

It would seem that this might be boring. I have, in fact, read these very passages before and have found them dry and confusing and more a tad irrelevant. God's Word irrelevant? (ugh. how embarrassing. or ignorant. or arrogant. or something).

But, the Young Pastor plowed through verse after verse, often stopping to confess his apology for putting us through this, for the new people in the church, for the fear he had that we would leave and think his teaching was, I guess, irrelevant. His earnestness was endearing, his passion obvious. I forgave him immediately for these two reasons alone.

I even nodded off a few times (just being honest here--not proud of the fact). But the strangest thing had begun to happen. As he continued on and on, reading, reading, reading, I felt peace. And sweetness. And comfort. And security.

In what? Some dry passages of Scripture? The metal folding chairs on the old wooden floors? The strangers amongst whom we shared our Sabbath day? What was happening here? It was

I was unable to put my feelings into words, until the end of the teaching. As we were warmly approached and welcomed by the curious faithful flock, as we shook hands and introduced ourselves to the young pastor, out it came. The reason for my contentment. The simple reason.

"The Word of God was preached here today", I said to Mr. Young Preacher Man. "It was awesome". And I meant it.

And I was going to say more, but it seemed like that would just be weird, cuz I could feel that hyper verbalness welling up in me, that thing I do, when I am stoked and can't find the right words, so I try them all on for size, tossing them aside faster and faster, as I get closer and closer to the kernel of truth I am searching to put into coherent words. When I am like this, my entire focus is on making my listener 'get it'.

As the Word of God was preached, in my hearing, it was like a lullaby. It was not unlike being warm and sleepy and safe and cozy in my bed, listening to beloved parent read a bedtime story of fairy tales we could not comprehend, with vocabulary wholly unfamiliar to us.

What does a small child know of the profound struggle of right versus wrong, good versus evil? Of princes and princesses and witches and spells? Of wicked stepmothers and sleepy dwarves and dragons and briars and castles and swords? Nothing, that's what. And yet, that is the child's favorite bed time ritual.

But it doesn't matter in the least. The child's soul resonates with the story, the voice of truth, the love and familiarity of the storybook tale, written by our Maker on our hearts from the time we are knit together. Although we have never heard the story before, we know it deeply. We recognize it from the first time we hear it.

It is the same with the preaching of the Word. We recognize it. We identify with it. We know it intimately, even if it is the first time we hear it. Even if it seems irrelevant, we know it as truth.

It soothes us. It comforts us. It sings us to sleep and tucks the covers up under our chins. It causes us to rest safely and securely, without needing to understand it all.

Cubits? huh?

Showbread? what?

It doesn't matter to the heart of a child.

And this child's heart knows she is safe when in the house of the Lord, listening to the timeless Word of God, which is living and active, sharper than a two-edged sword, able to separate soul and spirit, joints and marrow. (Hebrews 4:12)

Thank you, Young Pastor. Blessings upon your church.

Keep preaching the Word.

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