“Lectio devina: reading, thinking, praying, and living scripture with the intention of inviting and infinite, omniscient God into your life – as it is, no gloss, no veneer. Lectio divina is more Bible basking than Bible study, as it teaches you to absorb and meditate on Scripture, to converse with God openly, and to live out what has become a part of you – His Word.”
This is, by all accounts, and old and ancient tradition, but one which I’ve only recently discovered. I’m using The Message: Solo to journey through scripture using the lectio devina precepts, and on only day four I already feel I have been so blessed with extraordinary insights.
Also, I highly recommend trying out a different version than your “norm” if you ever get the chance. I’ve read through the Bible in KJV, NKJV, NIV, and ESV translations in the past years, and although my current foray into The Message is not going to transform it into my standby study translation, there is something inspirational about reading the Word in words that don’t always feel as if you’ve read them a dozen times.
The Message: Solo offers a scripture reading, followed by a Read, Think, Pray, Live section that offers guidance as you prayerfully reread, consider, and meditate on the passage provided. It seems to be about slowing down, and experiencing (or re-experiencing) the deeper truths within passages we may feel like we already “know” very well.
Below is an example of some of musings, based on the reading of Gen 32:22-32.
Genesis 32:22-32 The Message (MSG)
22-23 But during the night he got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants, and his eleven children and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He got them safely across the brook along with all his possessions.
24-25 But Jacob stayed behind by himself, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he couldn’t get the best of Jacob as they wrestled, he deliberately threw Jacob’s hip out of joint.
26 The man said, “Let me go; it’s daybreak.”
Jacob said, “I’m not letting you go ’til you bless me.”
27 The man said, “What’s your name?”
He answered, “Jacob.”
28 The man said, “But no longer. Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it’s Israel (God-Wrestler); you’ve wrestled with God and you’ve come through.”
29 Jacob asked, “And what’s your name?”
The man said, “Why do you want to know my name?” And then, right then and there, he blessed him.
30 Jacob named the place Peniel (God’s Face) because, he said, “I saw God face-to-face and lived to tell the story!”
31-32 The sun came up as he left Peniel, limping because of his hip. (This is why Israelites to this day don’t eat the hip muscle; because Jacob’s hip was thrown out of joint.)
As I completed the steps in the lectio divina exercise, I was completely captivated by the request for Jacob’s name. Jacob demands to be blessed, and before it is given to him, he is simply asked for his name. And he states it. Jacob. His name is Jacob.
What I fell in love with was this – Jacob had already received a great blessing in his life. His father Isaac had extended his hand and given Jacob the coveted blessing of the first born, and Jacob had already lived with this blessing for years. In exchange, however, he had to trade in his name, pretending to be someone he was not, and deceiving his father.
Does a blessing lose some of its joy when you have to pretend
you are someone else in order to receive it?
And on this long, dark night, as Jacob wrestles in the dark with someone he does not even know, he demands a blessing, and in return, he is asked his name. And unlike his first blessing, this time he knows who he is and he states his name. He is Jacob. Flawed, fearful, fighting – but no longer hiding.
And God sees him, and grants him a new name, a new identity that he received as the dawn was breaking, and his hip was hurting, and he was fatigued from the night.
Some of the blessings I’ve received have been carried them a bit like burdens; I was afraid that if people knew who I really was, they would believe that these blessings were never meant for me. I felt like maybe in the church, or at my conservative Christian college, I had pretended to be better, holier, more worthy than I really was, and the blessings I had been bestowed were based on my carefully crafted deceptions, not my reality.
I think my heart cried out for a God that would ask my name,
and when He heard it, would give me a blessing that belonged to me.
Not for what I pretended to be in the presence of His people, but for who He knew me to be in the night, before the dawn broke, while the fight was still dirty and not yet won.
© 2020 El-Inkwell.