If King David blogged

The ladies’ Bible study I attend is watching a video series by Dr. Godfrey called Learning to Love the Psalms. Our last lesson taught about the peculiarities of Psalm 39, the last verse in particular: “Look away from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more!”

Many times we hear of the psalmist asking God to turn His face toward him, but now David asks God to look away. He is overwhelmed and worn out. He doesn’t want to be disciplined right now. He can’t take the pressure. He’s done for the day. He wants to smile and be happy, but the things God is putting him through are hard. Really hard.

If King David blogged, Psalm 39 would be his overwhelm post. I’ve had plenty of those myself. Words run out because containing them is too difficult. Holding life together has become an impossibility. What God expects is more than I can do. I just want to rest and let someone else take the limelight. Concentrate on someone else for now, God. Don’t forget me, but don’t look at me right now.

I’ve been there. It’s good to know David has been there, too. It’s good to know that Psalm 40 comes next. Listen to this: “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God” (40:3a). God brings us to the brink of impossibility, and then He puts praise toward Him in our hearts. That’s pretty good of God. I sure wouldn’t be able to praise Him without Him putting that praise there.

So, praise the Lord.

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Being Holy

With the first Bible study of the season coming up, I decided to reread some of the book we’re using, which is written by Nancy Guthrie. It tells about seeing Jesus in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Looking at the chapter about Leviticus (a rather boring book in the Bible) I realized how much I don’t even want to be holy. The Israelites in the Old Testament had their entire life structured for them so they could realize the importance of being clean and holy.

But my life in the New Covenant? I try to get away with the least amount of holiness. It’s as if holiness is a chore I want to get through with as quickly as possible. Church services: go there and get back home quickly. Prayer: short or my mind will wander. Bible reading: just a little so I can get back to reading A Portrait of a Lady. Teaching Biblical ways to my children: oh, well, I barely know how to do that; leave that to the Holy Spirit and the Sunday School teacher’s manual.

I’m reminded of the hymn “Take Time to Be Holy.” I really do need to take time to practice holiness. Or else I spend my time practicing selfishness. Or worldliness. It is so difficult to get priorities straight. I hope the upcoming Bible study season will help me along with these struggles, but ultimately, I know I have to ask for spiritual help from God, who can lift me up much more effectively than I can lift myself up.

Some Pressing Thoughts on the Charlotte Mason Homeschooling Method

As my title suggests, I have pressing thoughts, so I’m impressing them upon you. Even if no one reads it, at least I’ve struggled through my ideas. My Charlotte Mason book study meeting last week got me thinking about my role as teacher. Here’s what I think I learned: I am to be see-through. I serve the children faithfully by putting them in the way of good literature. I also ensure that they are hearing the gospel as presented by the Bible itself. I am a sounding board to their ideas. I serve up a smorgasbord of education, lots of good stuff on a regular basis. And I allow them time to digest it all, too. I pray for their minds, bodies and souls. I remain see-through so they can see God through me, and the Holy Spirit can reach through me to work in them.

When I offer up personal opinions, I am being cloudy and not serving their best interests. Moreover, why should I need to speak? My actions ought to show what I believe. I ought to be someone the children can imitate. And isn’t that part of the sanctification process–showing yourself less and letting Jesus shine through more?

Now that I’ve learned all that, I need to mention the things that confuse me about this method. I haven’t figured it all out yet. For instance, there’s a lot of good literature that we read. And not all of it agrees with each other. I can’t even ensure that it all agrees with what I believe. Do I talk about it? Or do I let their little minds puzzle out their confusions themselves?

And also, concerning Bible studies, I find the Ambleside Online schedule (at least for Years 1 and 2), too easy and short. There are Scripture readings assigned for each week, but if we schedule Bible five days a week, that leaves me struggling to keep it alive. I get bored, too, with not enough to read.

And concerning the narratives. Yes, I am to be a sounding board for their ideas. And yes, they are supposed to narrate everything to get those ideas out in the open. But I am often a questioning board instead of a sounding board because my kids don’t like to narrate. “I can’t remember anything.” “Can I just say my favorite part?” Sure. “It was the end.” Oh.

I think Charlotte Mason told us that kids all enjoy narrating. Sigh. I wonder when mine will start believing her.

Maybe the better question is, when will I start trusting her? I get nervous about the stuff I don’t understand. And I think that’s when I stand in the way between a good education and my kids. I need to just trust that if I get out of the way, offer up the good stuff, and keep going at it faithfully, they will be nourished.

Let the feast continue.

In the Word

I am in many things, or at least I will be soon. I am in search of children’s books related to the different countries my homeschool co-op class will study. I am in a really good book about Charlotte Mason and the classical tradition called Consider This by Karen Glass (more about this on a future date). I am soon to be in my church’s ladies’ Bible study. I have a new Common Book where I will spend time writing down great quotes. The children and I have been drawing and writing in our new nature journals. And, of course, I am in our homeschool, reading lots of great literature to my kids. I am even in the children’s Sunday School as a teacher this year (a new adventure for me). My own personal reading has suffered this past week, but I still count that as a world I am in.

All these great things to be in, and I feel like I am not in the Word as much as I ought to be. However, looking at the list above, I realize that I am in worlds that put me in the Word. That counts. I’m sure it counts. I am going to be busy this fall, but some of my business involves studying and reflecting on the Bible. Not everyone can say that. I am thankful for the way God works that into my life.

The Depth of Scripture

The ladies’ Bible study at my church met today. The ladies had done their homework, and the discussion was lively and deep. At one point, we were discussing Psalm 51:12, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” That is the ESV version. The NKJV reads a little differently. We read the last half as meaning the Lord has a willing spirit (as in attitude), the Lord’s Spirit is willing and generous, OR the psalmist (David) wants to have a willing spirit. We consulted the pastor because he can read the original Hebrew. We thought that he would give us a definitive answer. Come to find out… he couldn’t give us a definitive answer because it could be interpreted differently in the Hebrew as well.

So why am I mentioning this? I don’t think it really matters how I read Psalm 51:12. All of our variations hold truth. I do find it striking that we can dig so deep into one line of Scripture and never hit bottom. I can see how that might be frustrating at some point. But it is also amazing. God’s Word is so full of meaning and wisdom. There is no end to our learning. The Holy Spirit can open up door after door when we read the Bible, and there will still be more and more doors to open. I hope I remember this the next time I open the Bible and think “same old, same old…”

Making Connections

I once heard a wonderful lecture about liberal arts that solidified my belief that the different parts of life can all be interconnected. It’s not just for college classes. I have been finding connections in my daily routines, and I would like to write a few of them down, if only to explore them for myself.

I have been reading Henry James’ A Portrait of a Lady, which contains much psychological insight within the relations of the main characters. The conversations between these people are striking, but what lies underneath the actual spoken words is very deep. So when I came across this post by one of my favorite bloggers, Miriam from Writing for Myself, I couldn’t help but make a connection. She makes sauerkraut, but beneath this act of cooking lie more threads from her past and from her present emotional state of mind. Read on to the end of the post; it is rewarding. In fact, it sparked another connection for me.

If making sauerkraut is Miriam’s way of processing different aspects of her life, then piano-playing is my way of reacting to different aspects of my life. Piano-playing is not just about making music. It’s not only a means of doing something creative, adding beauty to my home, practicing an art. It is that, but for me it is more. I often go to the piano when I am stressed out. In fact, I have told my son to tell me to go play piano when I’m acting overwhelmed or frustrated (and he has done so!). It is calming, but it’s not just that either. There is something deeper. It’s a form of reaction for me. I could react to stress by being angry and yelling. I could react to sadness by crying. I could react to frustration by throwing things. I could react to extreme joy by becoming hyper. Or, I could play piano. I’m not very good, but I have several years of lessons under my belt, and I have some favorite classical songs. “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven is especially important to me. So many emotions can float under the rhythmic waves of that beautiful song. There’s a special fast song I go to when I need to pound on something. When I want to lose myself in singing, I open the church hymnal. I play until my back hurts, and then I play some more. I’ve grown to like that dull ache in my spine. It means I’m doing something that is more than just a pastime. Something inside me is healing.

Now I want to write another important connection I have recently made. A couple nights ago I sat down at the edge of my bed, picked up my Bible, and turned to Isaiah simply because I like Isaiah. I found Isaiah 65:17, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.” I couldn’t believe it! I have such trouble forgetting things. I don’t really mean bad things that other people do to me. I mean bad things I have done in the past, failures, low points, disgraces, embarrassments. I have trouble moving on from those things. My last paragraph talked about using the piano to react. Yes, I can remember specific times when I used piano-playing to put a new direction on my depression, my low times. Those times seem to be with me always. And here I read that they will not be with me always. In the new world, after Christ returns, I won’t remember those things! It is a relief. It is pure grace.

I also connected this verse with the ladies’ Bible study I am leading. We are going through Nancy Guthrie’s book, The Wisdom of God: Seeing Jesus in the Psalms and Wisdom Books. Isaiah is not a wisdom book. And yet, I found some great wisdom there. This isn’t surprising in itself; I know the entire Bible is full of God’s wisdom. Yet, I know from our Bible study that wisdom isn’t always obvious. We recently studied some of the Psalms that are about royalty (both King David and King Jesus). It is not obvious that the connections we make between David and Jesus are pieces of God’s wisdom. But I think that is where Guthrie is going with all this. Wisdom is finding those connections between what God is doing and who God is. And applying wisdom means involving ourselves in this connection. What God is doing and who God is is part of my life. It actually is my life. I am nothing without God. I am nothing without His great plan.

This exploration turned out better than I planned. I actually made a connection about connections. I think. Now my mind is starting to swirl. I’m going a bit too deep, I suppose. I need to surface again. My plans for the rest of the night: read more blogs, read more of the Guthrie book, and read more of The Portrait of a Lady. Maybe I’ll have an awesome dream connecting all three in some strange, fluid way.