Breathing the Word and Feeding our Souls

Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person. Genesis 2:7, NLT

Man shall not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4, ESV

The Bible tells us that God breathing into Adam conveyed life to him. The Bible is the Word of God. We can’t speak a word without breathing. But when we read the Bible, God breathes life into us.

The Bible is the fresh air of our reading. But to live fully we need food too.

The Bible gives us life. Other books feed our souls.

The world holds a smorgasbord of worthy literature. Some of us pick from different books at once. Some of us consume them one at a time.

The first school reading I remember enjoying was Lilies of the Field by William E. Barrett. Lilies of the Field.

Barrett melds the individuality of Homer Smith, an everyman Baptist, and the community of a convent of Catholic nuns.

Smith, an African American man, and the nuns, refugees from Eastern Europe in the 1960s, represent those society rejects and oppresses. Smith drives a station wagon with a mattress in the back, his bed for the nights he might be turned away from the hotels of the early 1960s in America.

My eighth-grade mind missed the reasoning for his innovative preparations for rest on the road. When I teach the book now, I make sure students understand that many hotels would have turned Homer away because of his race.

The nuns invite Smith to join with their community to achieve a quest–a chapel for the local community.

The community remains. Homer Smith moves on to a “settling down place.” He goes on to find his home where he can build community.

Their encounters change him and them. Us too–as all good books do.

An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. Proverbs 18:14, ESV

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5: 22-23, ESV

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