Monday, February 17, 2014

What does it mean?

"What does it mean?"

Isn't that one of the most familiar questions in our language? As we go through life, we often find ourselves in situations just like the members of The Fellowship of the Ring in Tolkien's classic. They were running from the forces of evil and discovered that their safest passage lay through the ancient mines of the dwarves. They arrived at the gate, finding nothing but solid rock. As the moonlight fell upon the rock, the outline of a door became visible, over which ancient script was written, "Speak friend and enter."

"What does it mean?" That was the question. Gandalf the Wizard began reciting various chants, but nothing happened. The Fellowship grew increasingly agitated, but no one could figure what it meant. Finally, the simplicity of Frodo's Hobbit mind overtook the deep thoughts of the others. They were to speak the word "friend." As they did, the way was opened.

Last week, we discovered that the Bible is intended to illuminate our path for us. Indeed, it often does. But what if we don't understand what it means?

When I first arrived in Yuma, I became friends with a couple who had moved here a few years earlier from California. Their story was interesting, to say the least. He had been up for a possible job transfer and they were praying about where God might want them to go. Finally, out of desperation, they blindly opened a Bible and placed a finger upon a random verse. The verse said something like, "Go to a desert place." They figured that meant Yuma, so they came! (True story!)

While I don't doubt that God was somehow at work in that situation, I would never recommend random finger placement as the best way to discover God's will. Nor should you. But, what do we do when we aren't really sure about the meaning of a passage? Are there some "map-reading" skills we can incorporate to help us learn from it? Can even obscure verses speak to us if we seek their meaning? The answer is a resounding, "Yes!" What are those skills? Join us this weekend at Stone Ridge to discover them! Can't be here? Catch the podcast!