Peace seems so hard to come by these days and I’m afraid it is not because we are so often victims of circumstances. Rather, it is that we are volunteers. We give up rest when the blank squares on our calendars clamor for events. We add on activities upon activities, and burdens that are not fit. We give up sleep and thereby trade in that time for bodily repair and rejuvenation. We give up time and space in the kitchen to prepare quality food for the convenience of running to the store at the last minute (which, if you really think that through, isn’t so convenient). We give up walking for driving, trading in sharpening our awareness and eyesight for grit and speed and flying gravel.
And sadly, we give up our Bible study because really, it’s easier to skim a little here and there (if at all), and just consume someone else’s study.
Don’t you want peace? I long for a deep abiding peace in all of my days, in every circumstance. It’s something I probably will never have this side of the veil, but still I hunger for it.
Studying the Bible is one of my greatest pleasures, the food that sustains me. I find in depth word studies to be very filling and satisfying, but also in this time of raising seven children and living in my own messes and circumstances, they are too short and few. Memory work is helpful, as I can meditate throughout the day on a particular passage or verse, turning it around in my heart and mind, even as I am pressing the gas pedal on the way to the grocer with chatty children behind me.
But I am finding yet another way to study, and that is through art. Art: you know, that thing we wish we did more with our kids. That thing that we buy for them: crayons, paints, paper, scissors and glue….but where is our own personal shoebox of supplies? Art-ing, as I call it, has really brought another dimension to my Bible study. It is one thing to read and write and study….it is quite another to try to translate what I am learning into visual form.
Some ways I have learned and am learning: keeping an art journal, sketching a passage of scripture. Trying to distill what I am learning into one word, and then painting it (that one word will remind me of whole passages!). Sketching and drawing and photographing things around me, because just quieting my mind enough to move a pencil or focus a lens helps to quiet my mind. Handstitching or spinning wool is very meditative, and conducive to quieting.
Recently I picked up an old copy of My Utmost for His Highest at a used book store. It is one of my most favorite devotionals. I tore out some passages that were speaking to me, and created some mini-pictures, smalls, on canvases. One I made for myself, the other two I made for friends that were brought to mind. Creating these allowed me to contemplate the verses and to pray for people that were brought to mind as well. It’s spring, so of course I needed flowers and lots of them in my pictures.
One ditch I must warn you about. When you first find ways to quiet your mind and space, war will commence for your thinking. All of the garbage and lies and anger and bitterness that you have stuffed will make its way out into your thinking. You must battle them and dismantle them one at a time. In time you will be able to let them come and then quietly counter them with scripture, sort of like looking at playing cards and then just noticing and putting them aside, ugliness and all. The “ditch” is choosing to use that time to stir resentments, provoke more anger, rehash or remake conversations, and so forth. It is quite like deciding to do a fast or a detox…when you first begin to give your body real food and clean water, it may go through healing crises on the way to rest and repair. When you give your heart and mind time for quiet, you may have to deal with quite a bit of your own sin and muck on your way to peace. Don’t stay in the ditch. Keep your eyes looking to Jesus, and let Him burn off the dross.
I encourage you to try an outlet of art-ing in fostering contemplative Bible study.
May you be blessed!