A Packable Faith
June 1, 2016
10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
12 Blessed art thou, O Lord: teach me thy statutes.
13 With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.
14 I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.
16 I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.
–Psalm 119:10-16 (NIV)
Last weekend marked the beginning of the traditional travel season, a time when we go out and buy little bottles of toothpaste, sun-screen and other personal toiletry items for our use as we travel. These miniature items are supposed to allow us to take the necessary things with us as we go!
When I was in fifth grade, some men visited our class room and began handing out little green books to everyone who wanted one. Of course curiosity and the natural tendencies of kids, we all wanted and received one. As you might have figured out already, it was a Gideon’s Pocket New Testament. We were told it was a great way to have God’s word with you throughout the day. Over the years I have heard many wonderful stories about these testaments and how God has used them. Still, I don’t carry one with me today. To be fair, I do have an app for that.
Male Orthodox Jews will wear phylacteries (now primarily during their morning prayer) as a reminder to keep God’s law. While this act may seem a little legalistic, it is a ritual that helps remind the man of a higher authority. Indeed, it is inspiring to watch these men praying, their intensity, passion, confidence and faith in God. But I got to admit, not sure I could do it. I have this thing about looking dorkier than I already do!
David seemed to understand God’s commands regarding the law a little differently, not so much having it bound to his arm (or carried in his pocket in the form of testament), but instead having read it and studied it enough that it is integrated into his heart. The danger here of course is assuming that having read it once or twice, you have done this. True understanding of scripture only comes through intense and repeated meditation on a passage.
I have faithfully used the common lectionary throughout most of my ministry. This tool has one preaching or at least considering the same texts every three years. I have to say, every time I encounter the text, it is new to me. God reveals something more as I spend time meditating upon the text and allowing it to speak to my life and my world in the moment. Oh sure, there is the base meaning, the meaning for all time as scholars would tell us. But in truth, that meaning is really quite shallow. The meaning that begins to change and shape us is the one that is below that, the one that applies specifically to us and when understood and hidden in the heart will begin to transform and renew us.
Seems to me this type of testament is far more packable than little green testament or even a cell phone. Course, it costs a lot more.
Prayer: Allow me oh God to spend the time I need to hide your word…your words for me… in my heart each and every day that I might not sin…that I might become the person you have created me to be. Amen.
Reverend Dr. Steve Van Ostran