Monday, January 25, 2010

finger painting 101

i recently bought my first ever set of watercolors. i've had a desire as of late to paint. don't ask me why, cause i have no visually artistic abilities whatsoever. so far i've only painted once, and while it was quite fun, perhaps i should have started out my painting exploration with finger paints.

art. the Bible is a piece of art. yea, yea, it's also the written word of God. but the Bible is ART.

i have recently been struck by the Bible's literary awesomeness. the poetry, the use of language, the stories, i've been reading the Psalms as of late, mostly because i feel like they just speak to me, that i connect better to their use of imagery and artistry. but then i began to read Lamentations, and Elijah's story, and Esther, and i realized, well, the whole Bible is this fascinating literary work. i love writing. i love reading. i love the thought that goes into each word, each phrase, but more than that i love the bigger picture. and right now, the big picture that the Bible paints is one of such diversity and creativity that it just makes me downright giddy and giggly.

i've been pondering a lot lately about translation and interpretation. something that has been on my heart and mind is how often we nitpick at verses, how we, in our attempts to be "literal" and "unbiased" readers of the Bible, end up reducing it to something so devoid of creativity and passion, of diversity and emotion. it just seems to me downright silly. i could never read the Bible NOT being me, just as you can't read it not being you. and i don't think that's a bad thing. the creative God of the entire Universe couldn't possibly have desired for us to read about Him in the exact same way, right?!?

perhaps some will say my thoughts are heretical, i dunno. but i can't imagine that the way God and His Word reach out to me is the way it must reach others. just as believers have a plethora of testimonies, so we should also have just as many ways to read and see and explore God's Word and His ever-reaching hands in our lives. the early writers certainly thought so too--why else would we otherwise have at least 4(!!!) different accounts of the same story of Jesus' life?!? same God, different people, different ways of reaching them, different accounts of who He is. do you see how beautiful that is?!? that only collectively, through all our different eyes, words and lives, can we see the fullness of God's creativity and awesomeness?!?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

bigger hands

last week, i had one of those awesome, random conversations that can only be chalked up to a mind infinitely greater than humankind's collectively. i met with a volunteer with the United Way to do a joint presentation to raise money for them and talk about Abundant Life, an organization that benefits from said money. This happened to be the 3rd time that Kevin and i were doing such a presentation. we arrived early, and as we were waiting somehow got talking about faith and Christianity. he ended up telling me how him and his family all got baptized not too many years ago and a little bit about his journey so far in his faith. it was really a heartwarming conversation for me that suddenly turned to a different tone.

"have you ever thought about preaching?"
i stared blankly at him for a good solid bit and then, "well...actually..."

who knew that this conversation would end up there?!? i began to tell him some of my story, how i was going to Divinity school next year, how i had thought about preaching before but wasn't sure where that might lead, how i knew the stakes were high and the road would be difficult regardless because i am a woman. and from there the conversation began to move to race, to where his heart was moving in terms of reconciliation and the struggles that entails, and i got to share with him my journey so far along that road. this whole time i'm thinking, "here is this 50ish year-old white man, about as new to his faith as i am, bringing up both women in ministry and racial reconciliation to a person he barely knows and opening his heart to what God might have him do and think about it." the Lord works through everyday, ordinary people, that's for sure.

surely, i thought, it cannot be coincidence that he brought up both of the topics that are so full on my heart, that have led me to divinity school, and ministry for that matter, in the first place? how encouraging it was to hear him, to see his heart so soft for the Lord, to hear him beginning to work out the changes God was making in his life. and then to hear him genuinely take interest in the matters on my heart, to wrestle with my perspective! how could he so unabashedly and unknowingly encourage and affirm me, a woman he barely knew, to follow through with what i, and perhaps he, believe God is calling me to do?

our presentation that day turned out to be to a whopping 3 people. but as we parted ways to our cars to go back to work, i knew this encounter was purposed for another reason. as he walked away, he once again affirmed and encouraged me and left me with these parting words, "Just remember, there are bigger hands at work here." Amen.