O LORD God of hosts,
who is as mighty as you, O LORD?
Your faithfulness surrounds you.
– Psalm 89:8 (NRSV)
I’ve taken up lectio divina as a reading practice for 2023. Normally I read through the entire Bible each year, something I strongly encourage especially to those who have never done so. You don’t even have to finish it in a calendar year. Who cares if it takes longer? What’s important is that you get an understanding of the entire story of God’s mission to redeem and restore all of creation. Just as you wouldn’t begin a movie halfway through or close a book before the last page and think you know what’s going on, you shouldn’t read a random chapter in isolation from the rest of its individual book or story, or from the Bible as whole, and think you fully understand it. (Will and can God reveal truth to you if you do that? Yes. Is it the best practice? No). Read (or listen) to the whole Bible. Then do it again.
All that said, I ended up going through the Bible twice in 2022, because I took a class that required me to begin at the beginning when the summer session started and end and the end when the last week hit. As this was only a ten week class in which to get through the 66 books, I chose to listen to David Suchet’s recording, which I highly recommend. As the third year of this decade drew to a close, I realized that I wasn’t really taking in anything I was reading. I needed to slow down and try different approach.
And so lectio divina. What’s lectio divina? Prayer and reading. That’s it. Taking in just a few verses at a time, expecting that God has something to say. Chewing on the words. Bringing the pace to almost a crawl. Trusting that God is there, with you.
Today this verse grabbed my attention. Immediately I imagined a long cloak trailing past God’s feet (see Isaiah 6:1). A cloak that moves as God moves. Fabric drenched in the sweet scent of God’s goodness and love. God moves through the cosmos and history draped in אֱמֻנָה (‘ĕmûnâh): firmness, fidelity, steadfastness, steadiness. A cloak that is a work of art, delicate enough to flutter in the breeze, and yet it is made of steel.
Of course I am not saying that God literally has or wears a cloak. It’s just descriptive language, as is much of the language about God in the Bible. The inspired authors reached for words to try and explain the Divine mystery, but always fell just a little short. Which I love, because the falling keeps God firmly in the category of “other” in the best of ways. If we could fully comprehend God, then God would no longer be God.
So it’s just my imagination finding a way to visualize a characteristic of God. Faithfulness. Loyalty. God cannot be disloyal or unfaithful.
And I think that because God is a Good Parent, God takes a corner of that cloak and drapes it across my shoulders. And yours. There’s enough fabric to cover us and still have enough left over for others. Grace and strength swirl around us as we move through our timelines. Much like toddlers, our heads don’t even reach God’s knees. We’re small and wobbly and we fall and we cry. God kneels down, gently wipes the tears from our eyes, and sets us our feet again. The scent and feel of God’s strong love urges us on.
Isn’t it good that God is the main character of Scripture? The pure hero to whom we turn and return again and again?
GRACE AND PEACE ALONG THE WAY,
Image Courtesy of Farhad Khodayari