So as apart of my Lenten observance I am working on reading my bible.  Let me tell ya, I have some problems reading my bible.  Is it just me?  Ehh probably.  I’ve never been a person who reads or watches something that I am easily able to quote later, and sometimes I feel like people read their bibles for the purpose of memorization.  I am a big picture kind of lady.  I want to know the greater meaning, and in my mind that may be more important than being able to quote any bible verse at random.  Now, that is not to say that I don’t think that there is value in being able to quote some passages.  To be able to recall passages to use in life, and with others is a great skill.  All that to say, I am trying to read my bible more not for memorization, although that would be super, but in order to draw closer to God as we approach Easter.

Caution:  The ideas expressed here are solely of Erica’s brain matter.  I do not, and probably will never, speak on behalf of the United Methodist Church, as they would probably be embarrassed to have me speaking for them.  
As Methodists, I’ve been told, we believe that the Bible is the living word of God.  Which, to me means, that these aren’t words that were once relevant to lives, they are words that are always relevant.  They hold meaning to us, in some way, now as they did then.  Whether to teach us a lesson or give us insight into our humanity.  I have also heard someone say once that every time they read the gospel it says something different to their soul.  How at one time or another this word stands out and changes how they think of this passage, and then the next time they read it this other word jumps out and their perspective is once again changed.  So when I read my bible I try to ask myself:  What does this passage mean?  How does this passage apply to my life?  What was the author’s purpose? Can you tell I’ve taken one too many english classes?
So, to begin this lent season I basically opened my bible.  Wherever it opened to is where I decided I’d start reading….  Is this the best plan?  Ehh probably not.  But here we go.  The other night I was in Joel.  I should say I have never read Joel.  I am not sure that I have ever even heard a passage from Joel.  Either way I read chapter one, and I’ll spare you the details, but I will say I’m having problems with the living word of God business.  What does this passage mean?  What is it trying to tell me?  Who in the world knows?  I sat the bible down and thought, “maybe I should flip to something else.”  Of course that is my first instinct, run to something easier.  But that wasn’t the plan, the plan was open it, and read.  Period.  Crap…  So I’ve done some digging, apparently Joel is one of 12 prophetic books (credit to wikipedia for that scholarly information), and here’s what’s happening, they are mourning the plague of locusts and instructing others to do so as well.  Then the next section is titled “a call to repentance”, and I’ve got to tell you nothing in this section reeks of repentance except for the holy fast bit.  Either way they call for a fast, and then talk about the destruction of the lands.  The last bit:  Joel 1:19-20 “To you, O Lord, I call, for fire has devoured the open pastures and flames have burned up all the trees of the field.  Even the wild animals pant for you….”  has got me thinking about desperation.  When was the last time you were desperate for the ear of God.  There are all kinds of times that we feel like God has turned from us, and we beg for his notice.  We beg for change.  For me, I beg God every single day for all kinds of things that I am desperate for in the moment, Dear God, pleeeeeeeeeeease let this person go faster!!  Dear God, please don’t let my phone die, please don’t let my phone die, please don’t let my phone die…  Dear God, I can’t find my keys, where are my keys.  I’m going to be late, God, where in the world are those keys?  PLEASE HELP ME FIND MY KEYS!!!  Perhaps I misuse my begging….  I mean does God really care about my keys?  I mean for crying out loud, this is the creator of the entire universe we are talking about, and I am begging Him to help me find my keys.  Is that a wasted prayer?  The answer…  who knows?  I do think that God cares about everything, and that He probably does what I do when I’m watching movies–yell at the screen.  He’s probably saying, “What do you mean where are you keys?  They are right there, can’t you see them?  Right there under the shirt.  Stop looking on your bed, they are over there.  What are you doing?!  Stop begging Me to find them for you, just look under the shirt!”  I find that I don’t truly deeply implore God very frequently, but when I do reach that moment, that tipping point, the very act of begging is emotional.  If I am at the point where I am begging God for mercy, love, compassion, healing, I am most definitely about to lose it, if I haven’t already.  I am not one to lose my composure frequently, but somehow God will always get me to unravel.  It is at that point that God listens most intently.  Then God isn’t yelling at the movie screen but He is with me in my pleading, He is crying with me.
I know that we have all been in times where we have felt like our “storehouses in ruins, the granaries have been broken down, for the grain has dried up,” and I am here to tell you, God hears your pleading.  He may not answer it in just the way you think He should, nor as quickly, but He hears you.  Even when it’s about your keys.

Tom Conlon has this great song called Leaning and I think it has an important word about our weak times.  God sometimes shows His presence through the people He surrounds us with because sometimes we need the physical touch of our community.  I will not try to deconstruct the song, Tom says it so well.  Enjoy.

Tom Conlon, Leaning



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