Sunday, October 21, 2012


There are words made specially for theology textbooks. People polish them and bring them out on silver platters for special occasions - when they want to look smart in a debate or prove they know lots of stuff.

Then there was the time someone talked about courage and introduced me to imputed.

I've read the story of David and Goliath before. I've taught it in Sunday School. I've heard other sermons on it. You probably know it, too.

Consider who you identify with in the story.

David arrives in the midst of frightened Israelites. No one wants to face the giant who never loses and so they all hang back. They discuss and ponder and plan and wait and in truth do nothing at all.

Young David doesn't understand the quandary. He just wants to get out there and finish it. They laugh at his innocent assertion that God is on their side. Of course it's not that simple. They know better than this naive young shepherd. This baby brother. Haven't we all thought better of our own opinion than our baby sibling's?

Alone he stands. Courageous. Trusting God to live up to his promise to rescue his people. Inflamed by the insults to his Protector God. Ready to kill the enemy.

Am I that little guy full of courage? Am I out there defeating giants in the power of the LORD? Is that the application?


I am the cowering, fearful Israelites. I am sitting in a tent, offering David my polished, paraded, unused armour. The protection he couldn't wear because he was immobile within it.

Perhaps I'm putting a pillow over my head so I don't hear Goliath killing him. Me of little faith. Perhaps I'm sipping a cocktail as we watch him skip out to face the warrior. Observer of the real combat. Perhaps my armour has immobilised me.

I have to get them to repeat the news that he killed the giant because I think I've misheard. He what?

Then we're celebrating victory - won by a barely-armed shepherd boy, who delineates our lack of faith and bravery, by using his raw, unpolished courage. By trusting God.

I am suddenly being rewarded for his courage. If courage were a blanket, an entire Israelite army snores beneath it that night. One man has the courage, but a nation is blessed by the victory.

David's courage is imputed to the Israelites.

Here we go...

It's not just a shepherd boy and a giant and an embarrassingly cowering army. Here's where it all leads. It's the one righteous man whose purity is the blanket. There's no cover for any of us to shelter under but, miraculously, his righteousness blanket stretches out for us.

I'm crawling under and it's folds seem boundless. This imputing is good because finally I'm covered. I can rest in its warmth and my struggle to make a blanket of righteousness for myself is over.

I never was any good at conjuring thick warmth out of tattered, transparent threads. You?

Am I ready to finally trust in the efforts of the innocent? To stop obfuscating and prevaricating and pontificating? To accept the victory won by someone else's righteousness?

To let it become mine and finally change me.

31 Days - Being read by the Book                   and linked with Emily.

Monday, October 8, 2012

31 Days - Being read by the Book

October has 31 days to fill with ideas. I'm starting late but not letting it get me down. I'm not an every day blogger so I'll dip in and out of the pool. I'll be living 31 days this October, and writing when I can.

The Bible Society have a great campaign this month, too. A call to read God's word every day, for 31 days. Go and check it out if you're wondering about ways to get into reading the bible.

Since July, my train trip to work has lengthened from 15 minutes to 50 minutes. The struggle to get to work punctually is easily matched by more time to read. Mornings are for bible reading and afternoons for other reading. This is structure!

More train time means more books shuffled off the list of yet-to-reads, and more space on the overstuffed shelf. Sometimes, furtively, more little packages from betterworldbooks arrive.

As I read God's word, it's tempting to tick more verses off (...done) but I'm starting to double and triple back. I can read the same words three mornings in a row and each time amble a little further on. It's not as defineable as two steps forwards and one step back back, but we're in that region somewhere.

Paul wrote 'For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.' (Philippians 2:13)

"How is God working in you?"

I rolled back and forth over this question for days. Not sure if I actually spoke the fear that God is not really working in me. It's the word of truth, but am I in it? Is it in me?

A week to realise the latter part explains the former. Quite a labour, to give me inclination and ability to please God. It's been a prayer, each day, as I read it.

Sometimes I wish bible-reading was just ticking more off and getting more done. Reading the verses, then getting on with the real living. But this is not another book to shift from want-to-read, to read-it. This book is a double sharp sword, the path of a consuming fire, an instrument of grace and truth, hewing me to shape.

I'll read this book for all the possible days of my being and barely start. It will burn back and forth in my thoughts, in my heart, in my dreams and my living. It will cut my self-satisfaction and self-delusion and self-obsession. Do I really want that? It will stoke the fire of my desire to see life in truth. The truth will totally deflate me, while it reminds me I am limp and wan without it's breath within me. It will gently build me and nudge me forward. Send me in unexpected and surprisingly sweet directions.

I am fooling myself to think I can read the bible. It's the bible that reads me.

And I am so defended from it power, so blinded to its clarity, that I have to press back and forth over its words to get their imprint onto my skin.

So I'm back to my question - How is God working in me?

He is slowly decanting his wisdom into me. He is turning my flitting heart to his steady rhythms. He is supporting my hands as they falteringly do the love-work they are formed for. He is stilling my nervous, inner chatter to hear his faithfulness and listen to his children.

Slow and patient is his work. In me, it needs to be.

How is God working in you?