Saturday, March 12, 2016

might as well be lost

The Word for today:
Jeremiah 1
mark this: Jeremiah 1:1-2 --
The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, to whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah, king of Judah.
The story is told in terms of father and son, because that's what Hilkiah and Jeremiah were. But it can just as well be told in terms of moms, because in many families Mom plays the role of "Hilkiah," as you shall hear. Mom, or Dad, or both--it doesn't matter. Just as long as every home has its Hilkiah.
It's a story about discovering the lost Word of God; then blowing the dust off the cover, bringing it home, and opening it up.
As you read through this account, I hope you'll think about who the Hilkiah in your home happens to be. If you don't have one, then I hope you'll become one.
In Hilkiah's days as high priest, the Bible--then known as the Book of the Law--had been lost. It had been lost in, of all places, the church. (I went to a church like that when I was a kid, where it was a case of "hide in plain sight." There were Bibles in the pews, but they might as well have been invisible.)
But this wasn't a case of hide in plain sight, because the Book of the Law had actually disappeared! It was nowhere to be found. But when King Josiah commanded that the Holy Temple be refurbished, it was found as if by accident:
Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, "I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD." (2 Kings 22:8)
Then he took it to King Josiah, who listened as it was read. A period of great spiritual revival began. But our story isn't about revival in the house of the LORD long ago. It's about revival in your house today.
After it was read to the King, Hilkiah took that Bible (the last Bible in Israel) home, where he read it to little Jeremiah, his son:
The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, to whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah king of Judah. (Jeremiah 1:1-2)
The word of the LORD had come to Jeremiah because his Dad brought it home from a 'church' where it had gotten lost in the shuffle.
Maybe it was lost amongst the bingo tables and statues. That's where the Word of God got lost in my parents' church.
Or maybe it got lost amongst all the hi-fi equipment. The show went on without it.
Or maybe the people relinquished its care to the pastors and priests and teachers, and so it became someone else's business.
Or maybe the pastors and priests and teachers taught just parts of it until it became a car without a motor, or a heart without a hand--good for nothing.
Or maybe, just maybe, it was you who left it at church, lost until next Sunday.
Almost without exception in the history of Israel and the church, revival has been initiated by just one thing--a renewed interest in the Word of God.
In and among the bingo tables, the audio-visual equipment, the hierarchy of the church, or your own indifference, there's a revival in the making. It's within your grasp to dust it off, to open it up, to bring it home.
On my own personal ledger, I've got more wrong than right. But somewhere among all the hangovers and pride and forgotten affairs, I found the Word of the LORD. I brought it home to Shelley, who taught me to live it as I was teaching her to read it.
One night, soon after Frankie was born, I came home from work and Shelley was reading the book of Matthew, aloud, to our infant son. That might have been the first time in my life that I felt as if I'd lent my hand to a higher purpose.
So whenever I read the opening lines of Jeremiah, I recall that scene. The Word is the LORD's, but without the hand of a Dad and the voice of a Mom, it goes undelivered, unheard.
It might as well be lost.

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