February 5, 2007

On the Word...and Chocolate...

I was talking to a friend today about how in studying the Word, (which of course we need to do), that we not analyze it so much that it becomes dry, dead law rather than nourishing life and warm light to our souls. Yes, I value the Word and the study of the Word. But can we dissect it and analyze it so much that it becomes more of a specimen under a glass than the living, breathing, personal Word of the One we love, the One we desperately need to hear from and the One we exist for?

This discussion with my friend reminded me of something I read once in an old book I have by Corrie Ten Boom. She was a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp in World War II, having been imprisoned for helping the Jews. After her release (her sister and father died in the camps), she traveled the world telling her story and preaching the Gospel. Here is an account of her that I am reminded of. I couldn't find the book I was looking for in my bookshelf, but I did find this account online.

The story is told of the time Corrie Ten Boom was to speak to a group of theologians after the war. She first passed out Dutch chocolate to each person there - a real treat in those days. After they had eaten it she said, "No one said anything about the chocolate." Someone protested that they had indeed thanked her for it. She replied, "I meant that none of you asked me how much sugar was in it. Or what kind of chocolate it was. Or the order in which the ingredients were added together. Or the temperature of the mix. Or where it was made. You just took it and ate it." Someone in the audience replied, "And it was excellent." Corrie Ten Boom then continued holding up her Bible, "And in the same way you should read this! Stop analyzing it or you will never be nourished. Pick it up and read the Word of God!"

The story of Corrie Ten Boom and chocolate, illustrates the need to read the Bible in a personal way, to let the Spirit speak through the Word, to make it part of our daily devotions without over-analyzing its ingredients. This approach leads to a deepening of spiritual life. Corrie Ten Boom urged the theologians to read the Bible in that way. She does so because theologians, and many of us, read the Bible too much in an analytic manner. We apply a critical, scientific attitude toward it, in an attempt to understand what it says. Such a manner of reading may nourish the intellect but can become a dry intellectual process that leaves the soul barren...

In recounting this story, I am reminded that- yes, I am to read the Word, study the Word, know the Word and DO the Word. But in so doing, am I operating in the Spirit of the Word when I technically pick it apart and impersonally slap it onto a hurting friend's painful situation like a band-aid on a tumor? Heaven forbid!

"Father, may Your Word go down and burrow into the deepest place of our heart of hearts and find good soil to nourish it's growth. May it spring up from that place and spread throughout, choking out the weeds (the lies) that may grow there. May Your Word shine like the penetrating noonday sun into our souls, burning away the fog of confusion and penetrating every crevice where the creeping shadows have tried to hide. And Lord, please, please, please give us illumination of Your life-giving Word and the Spirit behind it, so that we may wield it carefully and compassionately and know it, as we know Your very heart. In Jesus name. Amen"