The book I’m reading references a biblical reading strategy called lectio divino, an ancient practice of reading scripture into our current circumstance. The idea is that scripture has relevance and application to my life now, in this very moment.
The author gives direction for using this method, “In the daily discipline of prayer our focus is on God and the words of God. You can read a Psalm or a very short section of scripture. Simply take a passage and read it two or three times, and keep your mind focused on that passage. Do not think about it in terms of analyzing it, but simply become aware of what that passage presents to you…Focus on a certain word or passage or phrase that stands out in the passage. When you are distracted, just return to the image or the word that you focused on out of the text…. Slowly this truth becomes flesh in us. Repeating the phrase several times quiets us down and allows our mind to descend into our heart. The words quietly spoken become a hedge around a garden in which God’s shepherding can be sensed. There we are with the Lord who becomes our loving shepherd who leads us to silent pastures where it is safe to dwell.”
I haven’t practiced this exercise with much frequency, but when I have it has given me great peace and insight into the text. Often, I approach scripture as a task or mountain to be scaled. When I reach the top of the passage, I look over the breadth of words I have conquered with little understanding of their depth or personal meaning.
But when I read text to find life in the words for me today, I can slow myself down. I allow myself to stop when I have found the phrase that I can repeat to myself in the car on the way to work. Or in the moment when I’m mad at that student. Or when my mind wanders to where it shouldn’t.
Psalms 61 is one of those passages for me. Whenever I read it, my eyes get stuck on
“Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
I love the idea that God has a higher place for me. A place of safety, a place or righteousness. A rock on which I can stand. I know that rock is Jesus and on Him, my feet cannot be shaken.