Kevin J. Vanhoozer in First Theology: God, Scripture & Hermeneutics
This quote was taken from my “Introduction to Interpreting the Bible” lecture notes, and I think it’s witty and very, very important to keep in mind. Everyone who reads the Bible interprets it, regardless of their education and training, and we need to remember that it’s really all about love and reconciliation or we do more harm than good with the Bible. Something especially for us dogmatic seminary-types to remember. :)
So I accepted a job. And I’m really excited, but also really freaked out. I’d been laboring over and creatively problem solving that decision for about a month. It’s teaching band part time; that means doing what I’ve wanted to do since the sixth grade, growing a program, using my skill set, and being totally in my element. But it’s so part time that once taxes are taken out, I will probably be making about $10 less than my rent each month, to say nothing of other bills and expenses. This is not the school’s fault, it’s just how things work at small private schools. The good news is that the band program has not been built up for many years, so there is lots of room for me to make it grow and get closer to full time next year. The staff is awesomely supportive, and the parents very involved. I can probably get enough students doing music lessons to be able to supplement my income, so everything should be ok. But it’s scary.
The day I made the decision to take the job I was reading in Joshua 1-5. In the first chapter, Joshua is being commissioned to take over leadership of the Israelite people. These passages have always been very encouraging to me. Four times in one chapter (and several other times in surrounding chapters) Joshua is told to ‘Be strong and courageous’, to go and do what he has been commissioned to do. To take the land, follow the law, and not be frightened because God is with him.
Immediately following Joshua’s commission, he has to take the Israelite people across the flooding Jordan river. There is no way to cross without a miracle. But before the miracle can occur, before God stops up the water, the priests must walk ahead into the river. Sometimes you have to get your feet wet before God acts. We can’t expect God to do all the work; often, we have to step out in faith before we see him working.
This is why I took the job. I know it’s the right place for me to be. I know that God will provide. And as Pastor John says, “You can’t steer a parked car.” God will provide, but it’s still up to me to put myself in a place where I need him to provide. And it’s still up to me to find students to take lessons. God is not the wish-granting-genie-god. (The world is not a wish granting factory? Eh? Anyone?) Instead, he gives us the opportunity to be co-laborers with him. And given the choice, I certainly prefer a challenge over having things handed to me. And so, the next step in the adventure begins.
So the plan has been to do devo posts every Wednesday. For a while it was easy, and I had plenty to share saved up in my queue. But lately, it has been really difficult to hear God’s voice as I read and study. I’m great at gaining more head knowledge, but have not been doing well at allowing my life to be impacted and changed by what I read.
Part of this, I think, is that there are couple broken relationships in my life with people I was very close to. I absolutely believe that God’s heart is to reconcile all things to himself (and consequently each other), and that we are to work toward that reconciliation as well. But I don’t know how and I’ve been hurt and I’m scared and angry. We are to reconcile with gentleness, and gentleness is definitely not a strength of mine. I’ve avoided conversations, both because I don’t think it will work and because I don’t think I can be kind and gentle. Which I guess means that something in me needs to change.
And then, perhaps, the other reason is that sometimes God doesn’t speak plainly to get us to seek deeper.
Either way, this is a very dry season, and I don’t feel as though I have many words to offer. I’ll keep trying though.