Warning: This blog is not about driving a motor vehicle.
I have a confession to make. I have no idea what I was thinking — or if I was even thinking — when I chose the title for this blog. It popped into my head and from my head to my fingers poised and ready on the keyboard of my laptop. Thought — written word.
For a second or two, I was channeling Donald Trump, trying to walk in his shoes. I’ve heard you shouldn’t judge someone until you’ve walked in their shoes, so I thought I’d try that approach to understanding the reality show star Americans have chosen to be POTUS. A second or two was about as much as I could handle. As soon as I committed myself by typing a few words, the portion of my brain not included in this experiment said, “Hold it! You were planning to write about Scripture. You looked through the list Arla sent you and chose Scripture. What does driving have to do with Scripture?”
Nothing. Driving has absolutely nothing to do with Scripture, except perhaps metaphorically. Driving is about change, about changing your location, about getting from Point A to Point B. In the broadest sense, Scripture also is about change, about helping us to get from this earthly life to an afterlife that is desirable — heaven.
However, to read the Word of God with only that goal in mind deprives us of a greater change that can occur in our lives right here and right now. Our hard hearts can be softened in the warm light of God’s Word. Our recalcitrant minds can become amenable to new ways of experiencing life if the seeds of God’s Word begin to shape our mental pathways. We can become new creatures. We can be born again, born of the Spirit, which Jesus told Nicodemus was essential to seeing the Kingdom of God (John 3:1-6).
Various Christian denominations and sects have different ways of explaining what it means to be born again. I don’t know that there is only one explanation; I tend to think that God speaks to each of us with a voice we can hear and understand, one which resonates within us as true. That being said, I also think we must remember who creates and recreates. One of my favorite passages from Isaiah lays it out plainly: “Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? In the desert I make a way, in the wasteland rivers” (43:18-19, NAB).
God does the new thing within us. God makes a way in the desert of our hate and our judgmental attitudes and everything that drives us apart from one another. God causes rivers of mercy and justice and love to flow through the wasteland of destruction that arises out of our inability to see others as fellow sons and daughters of an ever-living, ever-loving God.
God does this. He does it one person at a time, one heart, one mind at a time. But he needs a tool, and Scripture is that tool. I think that if we start — preferably with one of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark or Luke) — to read just a little each day, and if we allow those words to settle within us like a gentle rain on parched earth, we will find that we move from wherever we are right now to a place of greater compassion, greater kindness, greater wisdom and more peace. We will experience the miracle of being reborn, of feeling God’s living waters flow through us into the world.
And then, if we’re lucky, the words that pop into our heads and come out will be words that drive away evil and build up the Kingdom of God in this world.