Shayne flopped down on the bed beside me, propped one arm under his head, and cheerily quipped, “So, what are your thoughts as you finish out this year of your life?”
A heavy question for so little warning.
I swept a few thoughts together, and waxed poetic for a moment. 34 was a good year.
The question seemed to be holding its breath for a better answer, so I turned back to him, “You observe me more closely than anyone. I’d love to know your thoughts- what have you seen?”
…sentence, sentence, sentence…
“I’m really thankful because this year you finally began to put into practice some of the things you’ve been preaching for a long time”…
Oh my. This has suddenly ratcheted up from a level 2 question to a 10.
Cue the fan: Emperor’s clothes are blowing in the wind, and my blindside is hanging out in the sun: I’ve been found out… a words-deep-woman.
Shayne, like Peter, has eyes for a faith that is pure, “like gold refined in the fire”. A faith that leaks out in action not sprays forth in word.
With backward eyes, I was horrified. Face forward, I was grateful, humbled, filled to worship-awe.
34 had blazed like a pyre, kindled by disease, uncertainty, loss, doubt, debt, fear, and conflict. Atop the pile (quite apart from my knowing), pieces of my pride and insistence-on-comfort were scheduled for a measure of blessed incineration.
A layer of hypocrisy flamed bright in the fire and dripped away.Thank God.
As my Bible fell open a few days ago, my eyes lit upon a well underlined story.
Ezekiel was to bear God’s message to His people. Receiving his instructions in a vision, he recalls the moment,
“The voice said to me, “Son of man, eat what I am giving you—eat this scroll! Then go and give its message to the people of Israel.” Ezekiel 3:1
Eating is an intimate act, food goes into the inward places, and makes a man. No food, no man. You are what you eat. Eating winds the word from the surface to the deep, where it sinks into the substance and structure.
It goes from outside in, then inside out as it’s taken up into the cells, shining to the sun in the skin, winking at the world in the eyes. Food becomes a part, an inextricable, melded-to-the-man, part. And so must the Word.
“Son of man, eat what I am giving you—eat this scroll! Then go….”
…now, Ezekiel, don’t you speak a word of this until you’ve taken it into your gut- until you’ve swallowed it whole.
The order is critical: wed Word to bone then speak. Not a moment before. We all know when the Word hasn’t had time to root.
“Then he added, “Son of man, let all my words sink deep into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully for yourself. Then go to your people in exile and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says!’” Ez 3:10-11
Ezekiel, listen. “Listen, for yourself.”
Don’t just listen to speak.
Listen, my son. Listen and obey. Bend your will not just your word.
Bow your heart, not just your knee.
In the end, its the food that’s absorbed that feeds the man.
And let these words sink.
Sink down below, into the wellspring of Life, from which every other thing flows.The sinking takes time, but the Word that’s pushing toward the center is no ordinary word.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” John 1:1
CH Dodd paints the glory this way: “As Jesus gives life and is Life, raises the dead and is the resurrection, gives bread and is bread, speaks truth and is the truth, so he speaks the word, and he is the word.”
Can it be than when we’re found to be topsoil deep, it’s because of a failure to draw near. Not to know more, or to have collected more hours or studies, but to have locked eyes with the One who is the Word?
Is it a failure to adhere?
When you buy a window decal and you scrape it on with the credit card, the only places where the image is marred is where the bubbles and wrinkles appear. Over time, the corner peels up, dirt scoots below, and clarity is gone.
Can it be that when we lay our lives over Christ, it’s only in the unwillingness to stick ourselves full-body-close to His heart that the murky image-bearing happens?
It’s not a knowing of rote or word that makes us shine His Light, it’s the rubbing up against Him, looking in His eyes, taking in the Word to the joints and marrow, the soul and spirit. Looking long in the mirror and not forgetting what He whispered.
That’s the kind of faith that hypocrisy cannot enter.
By the time the Word has sunk His way gently through all the bedrock layers of a man’s stone heart, he’s loathe to pick up a rock and heave it.
There is no substitute (and why would we want one?) for adhering: for time in His embrace– eye to eye, face to face, word to Word, love to Love- hearing, receiving, delighting, knowing and being.
—-This painting (click here to view) visually depicts what it feels like to me to “adhere”- to approach the presence of God. The page also contains a 5 minute video that expands on the meaning.—