January 6, 2015
Proverbs 6:20-23 (read the whole chapter)
My son, keep your father’s command
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
Bind them always on your heart;
fasten them around your neck.
When you walk, they will guide you;
when you sleep, they will watch over you;
when you awake, they will speak to you.
For this command is a lamp,
this teaching is a light,
and correction and instruction
are the way to life,
Today’s text reminded me of one of my favorite passages in the Bible. It comes from Deuteronomy 6. I’ll print it below:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. vv.4-9
A life of wisdom comes from remembering and remembering comes from repetition. There are at least a couple of ways to build remembering into life. We can build private “spiritual” compartments into our days dedicated to such purposes or we can find ways to weave remembrance throughout the normal course of every day lives in public. The Word of God seems to instruct people more often in the latter approach.
In my own experience I have tended to err on the former side. I have thought of devotional life as a private, personal and primarily “spiritual” experience; a time of directing my thoughts and emotions toward God. While I don’t want to decry this approach, I find the method outlined in today’s text and in Deuteronomy 6 to be more beneficial (and fun).
Faith and spirituality are profoundly personal but never privatized. The formation of faith and spirituality require relationships and community. The people of Israel were instructed not to wear their religion on their sleeves, but to practice their faith in relationships in the context of their every day ordinary lives.
Today’s text instructs us to remember the wise instruction of our parents. The key to biblical remembrance is not to run through something in your mind but to get it off the scroll, out of your head and into your every day walking around life. For instance, wear it around your neck so that it will remind you when you walk, when you sleep and when you awake. That’s pretty much all the time. It’s not about a “quiet time” but an “all the time.”
Deuteronomy teaches us to impress Wisdom, which is the Word of God, on our hearts and to impress it on our children. It’s something we talk about when we a) sit at home, b) walk along the road, c) when we lie down, and d) when we get up. Again, not about a “quiet time” but an “all the time” kind of practice. There’s more. Our hands are always before us, so tie these words as symbols on our hands (or write it) and bind it on our foreheads so we will become reminders of this wisdom as we are with others. We are instructed to “write them on our gates and our doorframe,” so in case we missed it when we came through the gate, we will see it on the doorframe of our house and others who come will see it and be reminded also.
Here’s what I gain from this: Wisdom fashions an every day world shaped by the Word of God. Wisdom comes to us through words, and words shape worlds. God created the World with wise and powerful words and he wills to fashion our lives by those same words. These words cannot be left on the pages of our bibles. We must find practical, every day ways of keeping the wisdom of the Word of God ever before us. It’s about “hacking” our way into a word-shaped World.
Honestly, I’m not writing God’s Word on my forehead, but I am writing it with a dry erase pen on my bathroom mirror. I’m not tying it around my hand, but I am reciting Psalm 121 aloud when I tie my shoes. I’m not writing it on my gate but I am writing it down in my Seed Thoughts booklet that I carry in my back pocket and refer to throughout the day. I don’t do a lot of walking down the road with my children, but I am going over it in the car with them on the way to school. As they lie down at night, I’m making the sign of the cross on their foreheads with my finger as I say to them by name, “You are my daughter, (or my son) my beloved, and with you I am well pleased.” I want the world’s economy of a person’s worth to be destroyed by the Word of God and recreated by the Wisdom of unconditional love.
These aren’t rote religious practices. They are living reminders. And little by little, day by day, they are changing us. The change isn’t noticeable from one day to the next. In fact, it can be next to imperceptible, but give us five years, ten years, fifteen years and check back then. We don’t aspire to be a narrow-minded fundamentalist religious family. No, we aspire with all we are and have and hope to become to be a family living into and out of the Wisdom of the Word of God.
Believe me, there are no halos hovering over our heads. Trust me, we have actually gotten into arguments during a mealtime prayer. I like to think our failures are at least failing in the right direction. This isn’t some kind of idealistic spiritualized life. It’s messy at times, mundane at others and every now and then there’s a glimpse of the miracle.
Above all, we want to remember what the Wisdom of God is all for and all about– “Loving the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength.” And loving each other and everybody else with that same kind of love. If we get everything else and miss that, we missed everything. If we we get this and miss out on everything else, we got it all.
I’m still looking for a way of wearing this wisdom around my neck, but I’m thinking it’s probably not a cheesy Christian T-Shirt. ;0)
I’ll see you tomorrow in Proverbs 7.
BY THE WAY— Today is The Day of Epiphany. . . . And Seedbed’s Third Birthday– In celebration we are giving away all of our books in digital format. Check it out– ALL BOOKS FREE IN DIGITAL FORMAT UNTIL MIDNIGHT. So tell all your Facebook friends to tell all their Facebook friends and let’s sow extravagantly together!
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