There are some passages of scripture, or of teaching that echo through our halls like simple melodies—that build to subtle cadences that are thankfully hard to shake. These words, given a chance, can charge the listener with the very vocabulary of God. A vocabulary that I’ve found to be a kind of unspeakable language that holds meaning beyond anything that I could fairly communicate to you now. When it works—when the transfer is made from mere literature to the real Word of God—it moves me all the way down to my marrow. After that I feel a peace come, a peace that winds through my heart like a river, and I’m changed, even if just a little.
Usually, to get at that kind of peace, all that is required is a willingness to hear; a willingness to open up the Bible and to let its words do their work. I’ve found that weakness helps, or that type of weariness that has given up on making its own way. The only necessity, though, seems to be a listening ear. Lately, in my own droughts and drynesses a short piece of prose from the Proverbs has been ringing bells within me, and it has felt like a salve to my soul.
If it seems silly that I could wax so poetic about a piece of writing, then maybe you haven’t experienced what I’m talking about: That intersection between those of us who are of the dirt and him who is divine, that place where the spirit brushes flesh. For those who doubt the reality of what I’m talking about, I understand. I’ve been there too, my own cynicisms know few bounds. But the thing that I’ve been going on about is a lot more satisfying than cynicism … and a lot more healthy.
So here’s your chance. I invite you to take a break from your day, from your worries and concerns, and take in the following passage. As you begin to quiet yourself, read through the words once straight through, then take a breath and read them again a little slower, letting the meaning sink into your self. If you can, read the passage a third and final time even more deliberately. By this time, if you haven’t scaled the heights of ecstasy like some junior St. Francis or a modern Brother Lawrence, you’ve at least taken something into yourself that is of profound worth … a market share that will not rise and fall on the price of the Pound or the Yen.
My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you prosperity.
Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and humankind.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones (TNIV).