CHEWING ON GOD’S WORD
Understanding God’s Word is a lot like chewing on celery. We take it in, bite off a chunk, and we begin to chew on it. The sweetness enlivens our taste buds, and makes us want more. The water wets our tongues, and refreshes our spirits. The crunch of it satisfies that need we have to feel the weight of something in our mouths, to sink into substance with our teeth, to communicate to our senses that we have indeed been fed. We love to feel the mixing and pulling and mashing and changing of it as we take it in and work it. We are examining each tiny fragment as it rolls around and mixes with who we are, and what we are going through at the moment. We swallow those bits: the water, the crunch, the tidbits that succumbed easily to our reason and intellect.
And then, there’s the strings.
There are parts of God’s Word that are just stringy. We chew, and chew, and chew, and chew. Sometimes for years of our lives, there are passages of scripture that just won’t go down. We can’t break it down into pieces that we can comprehend. It defies our power. We wash over it with all the best of our reasoning abilities, which like saliva are given us by God for the purpose of mixing our own experience with His truth. But the truth remains unchanged. Our spirits groan as we get fatigue in our jaw. We just can’t swallow it yet. It’s too much.
But at some point, we have to move on. So GULP! Down it goes, like it or not.
This is where the beauty of the Word of God really comes into play.
When we can’t experience the mastication of certain parts with our senses, they still go down deep and nourish our spirits. The nourishment happens in the unseen places of our hearts. Everything about our digestive system is designed by God to bring what we need to those smallest units of life inside of us: our individual cells. The little tiny fingers of our intestinal cells reach out and catch bits and pieces of what we have ingested, and they break them down on a molecular level to bring nutrients to the rest of our body. We can’t see it happening, or even feel it, but we would die without it.
So when you come across a difficult passage of scripture, and you work at it and work at it, and take it apart and study the Greek or Hebrew or multiple commentaries, and you still just can’t wrap your mind around it, don’t be discouraged. Keep chewing for as long as you can, and swallow when it’s time to move on. God’s Word is feeding your spirit whether you can feel it, or taste it, or not. When it gets inside of you, He does the work that no amount of our labors can accomplish. He feeds us in the unseen places, and He is changing us from the inside out.
Lord Jesus, Father God, thank You so much for Your Word. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit who is our personal tutor when we study Your Word. Thank You that you have given it to us to nourish our spirits, and it keeps us alive when we would have succumbed to malnutrition without it. We praise you, and are beyond grateful that Your Word is so readily available to us in our society. Help us to never take that for granted.
But Lord, there are things You say in Your Word that are just hard to get. Help us to trust in Your goodness, even when You don't seem to make sense. And help us to be humble enough to believe, truly, that You are smarter than we are. Let us be conformed to Your image, and not give in to the temptation to try to conform You, or Your Word, to what we imagine it should be. Feed us in the unseen places, and change us from the inside out every time we come to Your Word. In Jesus' Name, Amen.