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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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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Tilling Good Ground

As a college junior, she was a latecomer to my freshman English class. The subject of our discussion was the 2001 book Peace like a River by Leif Enger. Filled with allusions to the Bible, historic events, and Zane Grey westerns, the book has plenty of fodder for discussion in a college-level class.

What caught this particular student’s eye was a line that repeats throughout the text as the narrator/main character, an 11 year old boy, advises the reader to “make of it what you will.” The it he refers to is Christian faith, faith in the miraculous works that come only from God. The narrator isn’t pushy about faith. He simply unfolds the miracles and invites the reader to draw his own conclusions.

My student found that very appealing. She explained that she had rejected faith because it had always been a source of contention in her home. Her father had come from one denomination, her mother from another. They had never been able to find the peace that Christ offers and Enger depicts.

My experience growing up as the product of a ‘mixed marriage’ was quite different. Continue reading “Tilling Good Ground”

Turning Bad into Good

For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow. If we are afflicted, it is for your encouragement and salvation; if we are encouraged, it is for your encouragement, which enables you to endure the same sufferings that we suffer. II Corinthians 1: 5-6 (NABRE)
Earthquakes, wildfires, floods, mudslides, blizzards–and war, poverty, abuse, and hunger. If there were a God, atheists claim, such bad events would never happen. Because bad things happen, there cannot be a good God–they claim.
But how good would people be if no one ever had to be a hero? If everyone escaped tragedy, there would be no heroes to celebrate. Without bad things happening–how could we be good? Continue reading “Turning Bad into Good”