Poor Substitutes


It will come as no surprise that since coming to seminary I’ve found myself swimming in God-talk. I’m studying Biblical Hebrew and I love it. My Old Testament Interpretation class is showing me how incredibly relevant (and yet often neglected) the Old Testament still is. My Christian History class is a reminder of the early church martyrs and how the church survived against some pretty difficult odds.

But amidst all of the genuinely interesting information I’ve crammed into my cranium, one simple truth I’ve been reminded of is this:  Talking about God is no substitute for talking with God.

Lately I’ve found myself talking about God a lot. What pleases and displeases God. What God is like. What God does and would have us do. It’s all very honorable and holy for sure. But so much lately, I find my heart starving simply just to talk with my Father.

Why you read the Bible determines how you read the Bible.

-R.W.L. Moberly

That’s a quote from my Old Testament text that has stuck with me. The reasons you read the Bible, be it academic curiosity, political agenda, seeking to justify yourself or purify yourself, will directly translate to how you interpret, use, or abuse it.

I confess to you that I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately for reasons other than simply knowing and communing with God. And when stress and heartache hits, as it inevitably does in the ebb and flow of life, I have been surprised by how parched my spirit is, how the waves erode and rock me.

This week I found myself on my knees praying for forgiveness and with simplistic, selfish, adolescent requests: “Help me. Forgive me. Show me.” It was not with sophisticated theology or with wisdom, but with hunger and it was the closest to God I’ve felt in a long time.

It was a good reminder that I’m a lot more fragile and a lot more prone to wander than I like to think. The prayer of the tax collector: “God have mercy on me, a sinner.” is much more apt than I often acknowledge. And communion with God, not communion around God is what this sick soul needs to remember that.


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