This spring I read Eugene Peterson's Eat This Book. Insightful. Challenging. In the book, Peterson gives a description of lectio divina: a rehydrating of the written word. The following blog is based on Peterson's definition.
The word of God is living--what does that mean? What does it mean to have print on the paper be living and active in us?
I think of yeast. When Dad buys yeast it comes compressed in an air tight bag. The yeast is then opened and it is measured out according to the recipe. The dry granules--distinctly aromatic--are added to the ingredients. The active, living yeast feeds on the liquid and the sugar and permeates the dough.
Jesus often used this imagery to show the influence of the Pharisee's teaching. Just as yeast permeates the dough and changes it--so does the teaching. He also uses this metaphor for the kingdom of heaven. A woman puts the yeast in her dough and it causes the dough to rise and expand.
But the yeast must be hydrated.
There are days I simply read the marks on the page and hope that the mere input of the words will change or transform me. But I see this is not the case. To reduce God's language to this--a simple input of words into the computer of my mind makes the Words just information. Bare facts on a white page. Sterile pages to be handled with white gloves lest we handle it incorrectly or dirty them.
God's word is not limited to the dry, fragile paper it was/is written on. The word of God can not be limited to the thin easliy torn pages that we turn carefully. The actual typeset on the page is not sacred. The physical book in our hands is not holy. No, the words and the stories are. This is why it is like yeast and is living and active.
Over the course of thousands of years the great community of believers, seekers, and skeptics have read these words. In many senses, the medium with which it was recorded and the material it was written on will or has disentegrated and perished. But the words have not. The message has not--this active yeast lives on expanding the hearts and minds of the many who have truly been permeated by them.
His Word transforms us. His Word was made flesh and given body. Given touchable substance. His name is Jesus. Jesus showed us what it meant to be the Word of God made flesh. Jesus came to rehydrate the law and our relationship with his Father.
The Pharisees and the teachers of the law had squeezed all the liquid from the law of God (much as we do now). They created this hard, compressed heavy burden. A burden too heavy for people to bear. Like the Pharisees I have condensed my walk and his words until they have become a hard, compressed thing.
But Jesus came and rehydrated the law of God. Expanding it because he was the living water.
He was the embodiment of the word of God. God's words were now living, real, and active in the reality of his Son. As we watch Jesus then, as we follow him through the courses of the gospels we see the reality. We see the Yeast at work.
Oh, that your Word might become yeast in me. Oh, that your Word, Jesus, might swell in me and rehydrate the hard, compressed places. May your Yeast permeate me. I want to ingest your word so that it becomes muscle, blood, sinew, bone and tissue in me. I do not want to merely attach it to my being. I want it to become the essential part of me.