The genre of Scripture really impacts the way we are to read different books of the Bible – books of history, of wisdom, poetry, prophetic and apocalyptic literature, the law, and letters are genres that are found between the opposite covers of what we call the Bible. To read the Bible correctly, we must take these genres into account. A lot of Scripture was written and intended to be read in one sitting. The New Testament, for instance, consists largely of letters. It’d make sense then to read them in one sitting, as you would a letter from a friend. But sometimes, meditating through small chunks at a time are really fruitful to interact with God daily in his written word. Practices like lectio divina (sacred reading) offer us a means of grace in this area that can work well with any biblical genre. Lectio begins with asking the Lord to highlight a word or phrase and what he’d like to communicate to us through it, and then responding back to him in prayer based on what we hear. After receiving our word and responding to it, we then rest in that word and, in gratitude, worship the God who still speaks to us today.
After training myself over the last year to no longer pay attention to chapters or paragraph breaks in order to read Scripture more accurately as discussed above, I am currently going the other direction, meditating section by section – heading by heading – through the Gospel of St. Luke with the practice of lectio divina. Some days I read 20 verses; other days, 2. In both ways of reading (reading the entirety of the book vs. chunk by chunk) we see things that we have not seen before. Something may speak to us in this reading that we did not see our last time through – a beauty of Scripture.
Today, I read the account of the bleeding woman and Jairus’ daughter getting healed, all in a day’s work for Jesus. The very first verse of this passage (verse 40 of chapter 8) showed me something I had not noticed before; something I needed today and the Lord was quick to point it out:
40Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him.
There it is: they were waiting. Waiting is something we don’t typically enjoy. I certainly live at a pace that gives no space for waiting, especially on the Lord. My prayer time looks like, “Okay Jesus. Share something with me quickly, or I’ll have to get up and move on. I can’t wait on you today.”
As I’m writing this, I’m actually reminded of an event that happened to me last week: I got to work. I parked. And I turned off the truck and decided that I was going to be silent and still and wait on the Lord to tell me when it was time to get out and head inside for work. Well, I said that. And I waited in silence for maybe 30 seconds. And then I thought, ‘well I’d better head on in and pray on my way.’
So, I got out of my truck, hit the lock button on the door and began to strut towards the office. But as I hit the sidewalk, it dawned on me: I locked my keys in my truck. Punishment for not waiting on the Lord? Probably not. Simply forgetting to take the keys out of the ignition because I was in ‘hurry mode’ (for no reason mind you)? Probably so. But I was immediately stricken with my failure to live up to the vow I made to the Lord, that I’d sit in silence, waiting on him to tell me when it was time. So, my wife made an unexpected trip to the office that day, God bless her.
Returning to Luke 8…
I saw how the people were waiting on Jesus, all of them, like they knew where He’d be. They were expectant. Clearly Jairus knew he’d find Jesus there, wherever the precise setting this story took place. Clearly the woman with the 12-year condition knew that Jesus could be found here. Two women, one who had been alive for twelve years and another who had suffered for as long as the other had been alive, were healed that day as result of waiting on the Lord.
Jairus and this suffering woman were among the crowd that was expectantly waiting on the healing savior. Perhaps the rest of the crowd was there just to ‘fanboy’ this hot-shot rabbi, but these two were waiting purposefully. They knew where they’d find him and they had faith, however much or little, that he might show up and supply what they needed.
Am I willing to wait? Am I expectant to meet him? Do I have a mustard seed of faith that he might actually care about me – that he might actually meet me where I am?
Whatever my answers, it’s the first question that I must focus on today. And frankly, I’ve been living at a MPH that has told Jesus that I don’t have time for him.
But guess what. This morning, after receiving this word from Him, I waited. I waited right in the same place He’s met me before – in the morning, cup of coffee in hand, and in the silence. A silence that says, “Good morning Jesus. I’m here. And I’ve got all day. I’ll wait for you. Because if you don’t show up, today doesn’t make any sense.”
And I may not get this felt experience every time, but today, I did.
As I relaxed, closed my eyes, breathed in deep, there He was, waiting for me; my Lord and my friend – delighted to receive me again.