In the midst of a world-wide fight against the Coronavirus, here is some news that is constant—you are safe in the arms of Jesus. Held. Loved. Precious. God is always working for your best in the midst of every situation, every circumstance. Rest. Breathe. Take some time in the midst of this present anxiety to be in the presence of Peace. And be loved.
For you are God’s Beloved.
Desired … Cherished … Sought after … Longed for.
It’s hard to internalize that truth, isn’t it? At least I find it so. There is so much negative self-talk going on in my head—lots of shoulds and oughts and I wish I hadn’ts—way too many to allow myself to feel cherished.
Yet I am.
And you are.
It is only in the presence of this Perfect Love—only in the presence of our God—where we can experience both healing and transformation. Where we are embraced. Where we are safe. Where we are loved.
Intimacy with Jesus is our pathway to wholeness … to peace … to life. When we walk the road—the path— beside Jesus, we get dusty. The ancient Jewish blessing, May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi, means just that … that as we spend time with our rabbi, walking, traveling, listening, following close behind … we get dusty. That’s a good thing.
May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi.
One of the most unexpected ways I have grown in this intimacy is through imagining Scripture … putting myself into the story—getting dusty. I have found it to be a wonderfully surprising way to hear God!
It is a way of opening myself—of listening to the Spirit. For Scripture is inspired not just in the writing, but in the reading as well.
Here’s how it works…
Take some time … 30-45 minutes, find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. (Of course, that might be the first miracle.)
It’s simple, yet powerful.
Select a story or event from the life of Jesus.
Allow time for your internal noise to die down.
Settle into the Presence of God.
Pray that you have eyes to see and ears to hear what God would have for you in the story.
Breathe again. S.l.o.w.l.y. (We need practice at this unhurried pace.)
Read your selection once or twice.
Then (and here’s where the fun begins) close your eyes and imagine the scene in your mind. (God gave us our imaginations … you can trust God will guide you in this process.) Put yourself into the position of one or more of the characters and then, pay attention.
For example, in the story of Jesus and the little children (Luke 18:15-17), imagine you are one of the children there that day. How does Jesus look at you? Does He call you to His lap? Do you run to His arms or do you hesitate, and if so, why? What are you learning about your relationship with God? About places within yourself that need healing? About Jesus’ crazy, unrestrained love for you?
Or try being a disciple. What makes you angry about these parents taking up Jesus’ time? Or you might put yourself in the role of one of the parents.
What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? How does it feel? How does Jesus look at you?What does He say to you?
Play in the dust a little.
Spend as much time as you need. Or come back to the same story on several different occasions.
It may take a few times to feel comfortable and get the hang of being with Jesus in this way.
But, the words … the learnings … they are God’s gift to you. Pay attention to what God wants to say to you … to show you.
And pay attention to yourself … how do you respond and why? Be expectant.
God is longing to be present with you.
And, you might be surprised… because I’m pretty sure you will encounter Jesus in a new and fresh way.
I encourage you to try imagining Scripture—try putting yourself into the story.
As author David Benner puts it, “It is more an approach and an expectation. It arises out of a desire to not simply hear the words of Scripture but also encounter the Word behind the words.”
I have found imagining Scripture—Imaginative Prayer— to be an unexpected and remarkable way to open myself to God’s love and settle into my place as the Beloved.
My hope for you is the same. For you are, indeed, God’s Beloved.
Enjoy the dust…
Keep an eye out for future posts in which we’ll look at stories from the life of Jesus and his encounters with women. We’ll uncover some surprising historical and spiritual truths. And, if you would like help getting started in the spiritual discipline of Imaginative Prayer, I’ll provide some guidance and targeted questions to help you get started.
Join me and spread the word…
Opening to God, Lectio Divina and Life as Prayer. “Prayer is not just communication with God; it is communion with God” (cover jacket). Dr. Benner invites the reader to move into union with God through a life of prayer.
Shaped by the Word: The Power of Scripture in Spiritual Formation, Revised Edition by M. Robert Mulholland, Jr. Dr. Mulholland clarifies and teaches how to allow Scripture to fulfill it’s role in both informing and forming us.
Surrender To Love, Discovering the Heart of Christian Spirituality by David G. Benner. Dr Benner’s excellent book explores love and surrender as foundational to Christian spirituality and transformation.
The ancient Jewish blessing, May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi… “The source of this saying is the Mishnah, Avot 1:4. (The Mishnah is a collection of rabbinic thought from 200 BC to 200 AD that still forms the core of Jewish belief today.) The quotation is from Yose ben Yoezer (yo-EHZ-er). He was one of the earliest members of the rabbinic movement, who lived about two centuries before Jesus.” Lois Tverberg, Covered in the Dust of Your Rabbi: An Urban Legend? Our Rabbi Jesus (Jan 27, 2012). Retrieved 4/6/20: https://ourrabbijesus.com/covered-in-the-dust-of-your-rabbi-an-urban-legend/
“It is more an approach and an expectation…” David G. Benner, Opening to God (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2010), p. 48. Although Dr. Benner is referring specifically to Lectio Divina, his approach to Scripture holds true for Imagining Scripture as well.