Tuesday, June 14, 2016

a party breaks out at the corner of 80th Street

The Word for today:
Psalm 79, 80
"Stand in the Rain" is a three-year Bible-reading program. So what are we going to do when the three years are over?
What we're going to do after "Stand in the Rain" is "Stand in the Rain" all over again!
I don't know if the blog will continue, but I hope so. Someday I would like to assemble about 7 writers, who would each be responsible for a day of the week. That would mean that I'd write, let's say, every Tuesday's blog. (Which would mean that right now I'd be at the park with my friend Stan, whose son's graduation party is in full swing as I type. But Stan won't mind. He's got those eyes that let you know he knows, full well, the cost of things.)
But blog or no blog, you must promise yourself to Stand in the Rain forever. You must never, ever "graduate" from the Bible. Because you starve yourself if you do.
The Bible isn't a book, like Moby Dick or Catcher in the Rye, that we read once. The Bible is an environment which allows us to grow. Shutting the Bible is to deprive a garden of water and light. In fact, that image is where "Stand in the Rain" comes from:
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return to it without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it
(Isaiah 55:10-11)
We grow bigger on every trip through God's Word because there are always new levels of understanding to be reached. (Just between you and me, reading the Bible once is the equivalent of blowing the dust off the cover. Reading it the second time is the equivalent of skimming the Table of Contents. Reading it the third time is the equivalent of reading the Introduction. The fourth trip through is like lighting a match in the basement. Your fifth trip is when the party starts.)
Then the party grows, and the more the merrier.
The first time I read Psalm 80, I didn't know that Jesus was the Shepherd in verse 1. I was alone in Psalm 80, so I hurried right through. No reason to hang out there.
But by the third time I read Psalm 80, I saw Jesus there in verse 1. I'll never forget the rush of those first fleeting glimpses of him, and the gathering realization that he was everywhere!
Around the fifth time I read Psalm 80, I recognized that it was Jesus who (in verses 3, 7, and 19) is the face--what we see and recognize--of God. (1)
By this time, I couldn't wait to get to Psalm 80. It couldn't arrive fast enough.
It wasn't until maybe my seventh time through the Bible before I realized that in one verse--verse 17--Jesus appears as both the son of man and the son of God, at God's right hand:
Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand,
the son of man you have raised up for yourself.
Then on my tenth trip, while reading Genesis, I came to see that Rachel's little Benjamin was a picture of Jesus.
She'd died, on the way into Bethlehem, giving birth to him (2). Just before she died she named him Ben-oni, which means "son of my sorrow." But when Jacob looked upon him, he said, “No, we won’t call him Ben-oni; we’ll call him Benjamin, because he is the son of my right hand.
So by my twelfth reading when I arrived at Psalm 80, verse 17, there were Jacob and his beloved Rachel. And there was little Ben-oni, son of sorrow. And there was Benjamin, son of power. And they were Jesus, who came to earth the first time as the Son of suffering, but today is at God’s right hand.
So now it's 5:30. I missed Stan's graduation party in order to write this blog article.
But as you can see, I have not spent the afternoon alone. I've held my own little party right here. I wonder who else I'll meet, here at the corner of Psalms Avenue and 80th Street, the next time I happen by.
(1) see 2 Corinthians 4:6; (2) Genesis 35:16-19

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