Photo by clarita on Morgue File.
I have mentioned in previous blog posts that my daughters have a ritual when it comes to bedtime. First and foremost for them is usually stalling! After that we make sure each uses the potty and is ready to lie down.
We then say our prayers, each taking his/her turn and then we tell our Jesus story.
(Usually, the two-year old also expects a big bad wolf story or two to follow!)
The Jesus story my daughters have gravitated toward in the past couple of months is Jesus walking on the water (cf. Mt. 14.22-33).
Each night, almost without exception, they ask to hear this one story over and over and over. Simply put: they both love it!
Not only do both of them love it, but they can both (more or less!) tell it back to you.
As I tell it, I give them cues to add a detail or two to the story. For instance, I may say, The disciples were in the boat on the Sea of Galilee and then what happened? And one of them will answer, A storm came up. And the other may say, Thunder, lightning, rain and big, big waves!
This event has become their go-to story. Some nights I plead with them to let me do another Jesus story, but they insist, No, no we want to hear the walking on water story!
So, I once again, for the thousandth time, retell the miraculous event of Jesus walking on water during the storm.
As the lingo goes now-a-days, or at least as I think it goes!, you have to give mad props to Jesus on this one: not only did he walk on water; but he walked on water during a storm!
Anywho, the girls listen as I retell it to them, often times adding their own comments or details as I mentioned above. Sometimes they will stop me in the middle of the story and ask a question or two. One of my four-year old’s oft-asked questions is this: Where is Galilee? Is it close to here?
I give a quick response or two and hurry on to the end of the story. As I conclude, I try to mention a lesson or two from the story, some practical application to be gleaned from it.
My daughters have heard this passage so many times they can basically tell it back to you word for word. Which got me to thinking.
I wonder how many times we are like my daughters. What I mean is, how many passages can we quote or retell but not go much further than that?
You see, they can tell the story. They know the passage. They know the details. They know how it begins, what comes next and how it ends. But, if I were to ask them to tell me some theological insights based on the passage, they would look at me like I had spoken some alien dialect!
Of course, at their age they are not required to know the answer to such questions. But we . . . we are different.
I wonder how many of us can quote the passage, we know the details, we know what comes first, middle and at the end; but, we do not really glean much, or any, theological truths from the pericope?
Again, to use Paul’s analogy, we can drink the milk of the passage, but we cannot handle chewing the meat.
Last night, as it was Labor Day, we grilled out for some family and friends. I love grilled steak. I love it red and juicy. I usually cook mine to be medium-rare. Nice, dark red on the inside with juices bursting out as I cut it with a knife. The meat is juicy and tender; but, it is not easy to chew. You have to work at it. You have to exercise your jaws and muscles to chew and break down the meat.
In short, it is much harder to eat steak than it is to drink a glass of milk.
When you eat steak you have to put in the effort. You have to make sure you have chewed it up properly so as not to choke on it as it goes down. You have to grind and cut through the meat with your teeth, breaking it down into smaller bits.
After eating a good steak, my jaws will often times hurt from all the chewing and effort expended to eat the meat. But my stomach and taste-buds tell me it was well worth the effort!
How many times do we just go the easy route, drink the milk of the Word and leave the steak to others? How many of us know the passage, but never stop to glean the truths being taught from that passage?
Again, I know i have harped on this in other posts, but one of the things I emphasis, over and over, to any class I teach is this: Ask questions of the text!
Stop, as you read, and ask questions: Who?, What?, When?, Where?, Why? and How?
I am all for memorizing verses, but I find many times people memorize a verse or two and then cannot tell you anything about the context of those verses.
I have asked classes about the context of John 3.16, a verse known by basically everyone, and had people look at me with blank stares. In other words, they knew the verse, they could quote it exactly and eloquently, but, they did not know the context: that is, they did not know who it was said to, why it was said, what the conversation was, even that there was a conversation, and, in some cases, even who said it!
As we mature and grow in Christ, we have to develop the skill and habit, by the help of the Holy Spirit, to think theologically, to think biblically. If we don’t, then we are a like children who know the story, but who do not know the meaning and message of that story.
As Paul was saying to the Corinthian believers with his remark about the difference between milk and meat . . . it is time for us to grow up and develop our spiritual senses and acumen.
If we don’t, then we will forever be limited to sucking down a bottle of milk, instead of feasting on a nice, succulent well-grilled sirloin!