The One Word that Forever Changed How I Approach the Bible

fruit

One Halloween about eight years ago, I was at Disneyworld, the happiest place on earth, with the unhappiest Minnie Mouse on earth. She was 8 years old, with a painted black button nose, full Minnie costume, sequin ears, and red glitter shoes. I don’t remember the details of the tragedy but it had something to do with real Minnie leaving the party before mini Minnie got a chance to see her.

It was a moment, let me tell you.

Mini Minnie was inconsolable. It didn’t matter that we were at Disneyworld, that she was the world’s most adorable mini Minnie, that we had all sorts of excitement planned for the rest of the evening.

It was the most epic and magical of meltdowns. And the emotional unraveling seemed to know no bounds.

At some point, we realized that mad mini Minnie might be hungry. I don’t remember what we fed her — a $7 Disney muffin, a Lunchable, I honestly have no idea. But within minutes, sanity was restored. It was shocking, a real-life Jeckyl / Hyde sort of moment. Mini Minnie stopped crying tears of rage and began speaking rational words. We could actually reason with her again. To a certain extent, she rallied.

All it took was a snack.

I’m sad to say, she comes by it honestly. While on our honeymoon at the beach, my husband recalls his hysterical new bride stopping in the middle of the bike path, dismounting the bike, and sobbing / sweating / claiming she was going to die.

One Sprite from a nearby vending machine and she was back in business.

The point is, we can get a little crazy when we don’t eat (or drink.) We lose all perspective. We despair. We cry. We don’t think or feel or act as we should.

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Last week I began a new series here: The Sacred Art of Receiving Your Right-Now Life. 

MI walk

Daily, I live in the tension between my right-now life / roles / responsibilities, and my hoped-for life / work / dreams. Like the rest of you, I’m knee-deep in the dailyness of dinner, the relentlessness of laundry, helping with 4th grade math that’s too hard for me, raising kids in a crazy world, living in community, and working an actual job.

I have a beautiful life. Every day, I count the gifts. Living in the frustrating tension between the right-now and the hoped-for doesn’t mean I’m not grateful; it simply means that I wrestle. Peace and acceptance can be a challenge for me because Longing and Envy are always nipping at my heels.

I’m writing this series because I want to know what it looks like in our real, messy, daily lives to receive the life of Christ, broken for us, and then to “receive our own lives” with humility and trust, living broken and poured out as He did.

I’m learning that these complicated questions find their answers in the simple places and ordinary tasks of our daily work and regular lives.

But.

That doesn’t mean it’s all happy-clappy-dishwashing and dinner-prepping and kid-raising. We’re going to get to these topics in our series but the reality is, we can’t even begin to talk about feeding and nourishing others until we first have been fed.

We have to eat.

muffin

What’s the one word that forever changed how I approach God’s word?

Food.

You may be familiar with the story of Jesus in the desert for 40 days with Satan.

After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’

Jesus answered, ‘It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

Jesus, the Son of God, fought against the temptations of power, pride, greed, influence, and acclaim with the Word of God.

He even fought physical fatigue and hunger and loneliness with the Word of God.

How much more must this be true for us?

God’s Word was Christ’s hope, his consolation, his power, his perspective, his sustenance.

It’s taken me years to learn that it’s all of these things for me too.

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If you’ve grown up in Christian culture, you’ve probably heard “being in God’s Word” presented as a number of different things:

spiritual discipline

— something you should desperately desire if you’re a devoted Christian

— where you find answers for life’s questions

the story of God’s people

the story of God’s love for the world

And all of this is true. But for me, I began to love and pursue and desire God’s Word when I realized it was my food.

Without it, I ricochet through my days much like mad mini Minnie with low blood sugar. My life is easily defined by my frustration, devastation, bewilderment, anger, and selfishness.

With it, I’m more grounded and centered. I have a perspective that’s so much bigger than myself and my own little kingdom. I walk in a spirit of truth instead of a spirit of crazy.

bible

I realize this is the least theologian-ish post ever on the Word of God, like I see the Bible as some sort of therapeutic, self-help tool.

Actually, the Word of God is God. It’s alive and active,” the Living Word. 

Crazy, right? I can tell you from experience, we can’t control the ways it may work in our lives. We use words like “quiet time” or “daily devotions” and that makes it sound so tidy and polite. In reality, the word of God is sharper than a two edged sword.

The hope, revelation, conviction, identity, power, and perspective it can unleash in our right-now lives is untamable.

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It’s been a hard week around here — a week of grief, stress, and overwhelm. There have been many circumstances, tasks, and emotions just this week that I have not wanted to receive. I’m depleted in every way.

The only thing that has kept me putting one foot in front of the other is the food I’ve eaten each morning, not out of duty but out of sheer desperation.

“Lord, I’m opening your word this morning. You know that I’m starving and desperate. Please feed me.”

And He has.

I realize that this post may raise more questions than answers.

How do you spend time in Scripture?

It’s hard to understand. How is it so meaningful to you?

I’m super busy / unmotivated / apathetic / cynical / ________. Any suggestions for me? 

laptop coffee

Yes! Let’s talk about all of these things. The next post in the series will get super practical. We’ll talk about everything from how your personality may influence your approach to studying the Bible, to real-life solutions when you’re busy, and even some helpful tools.

But here’s the thing: I can help inspire you to receive your current season of work, to find joy in feeding your family, or to find right-now ways to use some of the gifts that don’t feel like they have a place. These are the struggles of our regular lives and I long to encourage you in all of these areas.

But you’ll still get hungry, lose all perspective, and make it about your own little kingdom without God’s Word influencing and empowering your daily rhythms and pursuits. Ask me how I know. : )

I can only begin to receive my own life — heartache, limitations, frustration and all — when I begin to receive his Word as my truest and most beneficial sustenance.

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I can’t wait for us to get practical about all this. If you have questions you’d like to see me address, I’d love that! You can leave them in the comments section or email me directly.

If this series sounds like something you need, all you have to do is subscribe to this online space. (You can do that in the box below this post.) If you’re already subscribed, yay! You’ll automatically receive it. The series is totally free.

Simply come and receive.

Whenever the latest installment of the series is published, you’ll be the first to know and you won’t miss a post.

the sacred art graphic

Post 1: How to Live Your Ordinary Life with Extraordinary Purpose

You may also enjoy

When Your Right-Now Work Feels Extra Ordinary but Not Extraordinary

Learning to Love the Work of Our Hands this Year by Kimberly Coyle for Grace Table

How to Pursue Your Hoped-for Work in the Midst of Your Right-Now Life {a series)

How a 92-year-old Woman Taught Me the Value of My Right-Now Work

How to Live Your Ordinary Life with Extraordinary Purpose {a new series}

the sacred art - lantern - 1

I landed in January 2018 like an amateur acrobat shot out of a cannon who then had to run a relay race.

It has not been a slow, graceful, or intentional transition into a new year.

It’s complicated to explain, but there was no time for reflection or resolutions, no quiet space for examination, no soulful opportunity to solidify my place and purpose in a new year.

Instead, I found myself in the middle of frenzy — a busy family schedule, a house in chaos, a full work queue, and a flurry of unexpected responsibilities that fell squarely in my lap. If I was the sort of person who thrives on being needed, I would be living in my sweet spot.

But, for better or for worse, I am the opposite of that person.

Instead of living broken and poured out in these early weeks of a new year, I’ve lived bitterly and dried up, each new request or need feeling like nails on the chalkboard of my soul.

“Really, Marian? Nails on the chalkboard of your soul?” I know, I know. It’s so dramatic, like something ripped from the pages of an angsty, adolescent diary.

And I fully admit it. I am dramatic.

roses

I feel things deeply, my senses are always in overdrive. I am a perceiver, an observer, and the possessor of a rich and volatile “inner life.”

Being wired this way has its perks if you can live your life as an artist. Inspired. In solitude. With zero ordinary responsibilities and bills that someone else is paying.

But for me, my “rich inner life” mostly feels inconvenient. I have boundless creative energy but my right-now life rudely sprawls itself out across the limited hours of my day like a clueless, overbearing house guest.

When I lose all perspective — due to fatigue, overwhelm, spiritual detachment, or having zero creative outlet — my right-now roles and responsibilities can feel like Cousin Eddie, exhausting and uninvited.

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I’ve done my best to soldier on through crazy town January, surfing the waves of productivity like a pro, and bulldozing all of the domestic tasks like the responsible domestic engineer that I am.

Until I came unhinged last week. It had probably been months in the making.

staircase

It started on Thursday, got a bit better on Friday…and then crash-landed in an embarrassing blaze of glory. I coped in less than mature ways and spoke regrettable words about my life. I cried and went to bed without dinner.

Thankfully, Grace is a hound.

Prayer and insight from a friend —

Conversation I didn’t feel like having my husband —

Words I didn’t want to hear but knew I needed to receive —

An entire day devoted to cleaning the house (unexpectedly therapeutic) —

A Sunday morning when I didn’t feel like church but went away —

Communion —

Take, eat, this is my body which is being broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me.

The truth of the Word, the wine grape juice from the cup, the sorrowful tears from my own eyes — they swirled into a divine alchemy that rose like smoke into one of the clearest visions I’ve ever had.

I don’t mean “vision” as in I actually saw something. By vision, I mean clarity — words that wove into a message and a message that immediately told me what it wanted to be. It all crystallized so quickly, I could barely write fast enough.

What does it look like in our real, messy, daily lives to receive the life of Christ, broken for us, and then to “receive our own lives” with humility and trust, living broken and poured out as He did? 

I’m learning that these complicated questions find their answers in the simple places and ordinary tasks of our daily work and regular lives.

popcorn

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For months, I’ve been wrestling and brainstorming with a message, a series I’ve desperately wanted to offer. It’s outlined and partially fleshed out, just waiting to be finished and packaged and delivered in some way.

I’ve prayed over it and sought counsel. I had a plan and then I was forced to swallow the hard truth. Try as I might, it just couldn’t be born into my right-now life. I’ve felt great sadness and frustration, but I knew the work required wasn’t compatible with the time and energy I currently have.

I was given something else instead. It’s a similar message but simpler to offer and I’m so excited to share it with you.

I’ve designed it to speak to your soul and then extend practically into your real life.

the sacred art graphic

This series is for you if:

  • You need soulful encouragement + real-life tips for living your ordinary life with extraordinary purpose.
  • Your soul feels empty and you need realistic ways to receive spiritual food.
  • You’re bogged down in the mundane work of your daily life: the dailyness of dinner, feeling like a taxi driver, changing diapers and folding onesies.
  • You know that the “work of your hands” matters but is there a way not to hate it so much?
  • You want to feed your family actual food but it has to be easy and why does dinner have the nerve to come around every day?
  • You have gifts you long to use but your right-now life doesn’t have the space for it.
  • You want to gratefully receive your right-now life, challenges and imperfections and all, instead of resenting it.

 

cereal

We’re going to talk about realistic ways to be nourished by Scripture, feeding your family because you love them (but with the least amount of work), the sacredness of your daily work in the home, rest and self-care, relationship and community, and creative ways to use your gifts in your right-now life.

Did I mention that I’m excited? : )

Even if no one shows up, this is a series I need for my own self, right now. This means I’m not writing as a wise sage speaking from a learned and lofty place, but as a working mom of 3 kids, a wife, a keeper of home, a hopeless creative, and a writer carrying projects that can’t yet be born. I write as a woman who longs to be present and purposeful in my right-now life, even as I wait with hope for the fruition of my own creative work.

If this sounds like something you need, all you have to do is subscribe to this online space. (You can do that in the box below this post.) If you’re already subscribed, yay! You’ll automatically receive it. The series is totally free.

Simply come and receive.

Whenever the latest installment of the series is published, you’ll be the first to know and you won’t miss a post.

In the meantime, you may enjoy these:

When Your Right-Now Work Feels Extra Ordinary but Not Extraordinary

Learning to Love the Work of Our Hands this Year by Kimberly Coyle for Grace Table

How to Pursue Your Hoped-for Work in the Midst of Your Right-Now Life {a series)

How a 92-year-old Woman Taught Me the Value of My Right-Now Work

See you soon!