Living in the biblical text is something I should be used to. I really should! But somehow this Luke 10 experiment is harder than it looks.
First of all, my flesh has an absolute horror of reading slowly. And then rereading! I am very nearly sick of this passage. I don’t know what I am supposed to be ‘getting out’ of it! Because, after all, we read Scripture to get something out of it for us, don’t we?! The answer to that is: ‘yes, quite probably more than I realised!’
In the staff meeting the other day, we managed to talk about everything but this passage. It didn’t come into conversation at all until I remembered the experiment and felt guilty. Nothing like guilt to motivate you, eh?! So we chose to discuss it. It felt a bit like a Bible study actually, just without having the text open in front of us. And two of us admitted to having found it empty in our readings before our meeting.
But, you know, as we talked, it felt like God was opening our eyes slightly. For me, the main thing I was seeing was that Jesus never tells his disciples to pray for the harvest. That is a given: it’s there in front of them; they’d have to be blind not to see it. But the bit Jesus thought they might miss…? The need to pray for more workers.
How often do we pray for our churches to grow, for our ministries to see more converts (‘disciples’ to you, if you consider yourself enlightened!). As a church leader, I sort of feel duty-bound to pray for numerical growth (alongside spiritual growth). But Jesus assumes that will happen. He’s more bothered about the disciples praying for others to join them as kingdom workers.
Do I pray that enough? Sure, I lead a church, so it’s blindingly obvious most of the time that every arm of the church needs more workers, let alone the need for every disciple to be released as a missionary to their workplace, home and ‘third place’. But do I believe the Lord of the harvest to send (or make!) those workers? I moan about it, yes, but do I pray believing prayers that expect this church to produce more workers?
Hmm, after that little excursus about what I learnt though, I am still left with a question about this Luke 10 experiment. So far, it’s been a Bible study – albeit an irritating one where I’ve read the text too many times! I also find it frustrating that it is such a random chunk of verses. I like to understand context and cotext!
But what comes next in this experiment? At what point does Luke 10 become not a Bible study but the soundtrack to my life? How many more times do I have to read it? How many more conversations do I have to choose to have about it? When is God going to get all dramatic and make it ‘speak‘ to me?!
Why do I suspect that these are the wrong questions? I see in myself a desire to have Scripture ‘work’ for me, ‘speak’ to me, ‘live’ for me. It’s a bit me-centric really. Unsurprising, but frustrating! I can also see that I want it now. I don’t have a deeply-developed spirituality that is happy to let God work at his pace! So I’m asking how long I have to live in the text to be transformed by it.
I don’t know what the outcome of this experiment will be. If I’m sick of these twelve verses now, how much worse will it be after four weeks instead of one week? And as for the second month, well…! What will I find to say about it then?
I’ll have to keep you posted on this one. I think there must be more than I can see here. But then…it’s always what’s unseen that is eternal, and the pearl of great price that is the kingdom was hidden. I’d bet the final results of this experiment will be worth waiting for.