I hate packing. I mean, I utterly loath it. I find no delight in putting all my possessions in a series of boxes only to move them to a new location and then take them out again. The whole process is daunting and exhausting. This is what I have been living with for the past few months.
See, I recently accepted a new position. After 13 years, I am leaving the parish I love dearly, and entering a new community. This position is a great opportunity for me and my family. And while I am incredibly excited to begin this new endeavor, the delicate balance between selling our house, and buying a new one, breathes constant turmoil within me. As I write this, the family and I are living in a show home. The rooms are impeccably staged, conveying the important lived-in quality without any sense of personalization. We use our dishes sparingly, avoiding all moisture rings on the coffee table or crumbs on the counter. The house of relaxation and ease is anything but. And as each day draws on, the anxiety and worry only increase. It is no wonder that studies name moving to a new house as one of the most stressful things in we can go through.
Sometimes, when we are going through times of frustration, worry, or discouragement, we find it hard to hear Jesus’ voice. Scripture seems closed to us. In our discouragement and frustration, we shy away from scripture, believing that it doesn’t have anything to say to us. This is partly because we don’t know where to turn. After all, where exactly is the verse that says that my house will be sold according to God’s good time?
Yet what if we didn’t have to hunt for God’s voice? What if we could turn to scripture, even in our discouragement, in the hopeful anticipation that Jesus would speak to us. Part of my practice of morning prayer includes reading previously assigned portions of scripture. This structure of the lectionary is important to me. I do not search out the readings, as if it’s up to me to find Jesus’ message like a needle in a haystack. Nor do I close my eyes, flip to a page, and point. No biblical roulette for me. Instead, I read the readings, appointed for the day, in the daring belief that Jesus can use those words to speak into my life.
The other morning, the psalm appointed was Psalm 5. Verse 7 says “But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house.” Immediately this verse gave me comfort, as if I experienced a divine whisper spoken into my heart. Of course, I know that the “house” David is referring to is the Temple. I know that the Holy Spirit didn’t inspire David to write the psalm as an encouragement for those struggling with moving to a new province.
Still, I could not help but feel that the Spirit spoke this verse to me. Reading this verse reminded me that my move occurs under God’s guiding hand. Furthermore, the stressed-out prayers I cry do not fall on deaf ears. And though, at the time of writing this in the summer of 2022, my house remains unsold, I feel that I can move forward knowing that I am not alone.
As Christian people, we live out the audacious belief that the Jesus speaks into our lives. We daringly believe that when we read the bible, Jesus can use those words to address our current situation. The Bible, we believe, is living and active.
What would it be like for you cultivate the habit of sustained biblical reading? Can you adopt a plan, a way of systematically reading the bible? There are a myriad of bible reading plans out there. Some move you through the Bible in one year, some in two, some are rooted in just the New Testament and Psalms. A bible reading plan is a gift because it frees us from feeling that we need to hunt for a divine message. Instead, we simply receive the gift of God’s life-giving voice, and dare to believe that the readings before us can, and will, speak to us.