Psalm 119:17–24 (Gimel)

What is my relationship with Scripture? How do I experience it? How do I describe it? What is it to me?

In certain stages of my formation there were voices that emphasized words like “inerrancy.” In truth, though, despite my formation in evangelical circles, these were never the voices of my own teachers. To be sure, many of them affirmed inerrancy when asked, in some cases as a condition of their employment. And I don’t think they were dissembling. But “inerrancy” was not the thing that they said with the greatest animation, conviction, and joy. I think they mostly had little use for that word.

Rather, my memorable teachers—my hometown pastors, my favorite college and seminary professors, and beyond—have been people who when they looked into Scripture saw “wondrous things,” who were “consumed with longing” for the divine voice to be heard in its words, for whom the Scriptures were an ever-renewed “delight,” their wisest and most beneficent “counselors.”

I do believe that I have learned or inherited a portion of this experience and habit and charism of theirs. It took many years. It is not an achievement. It is a gift accepted, slowly, clumsily, not all at once and never completely, but surely. It comes not with romanticization and idolization of the Scriptures, not with blustery, unsustainable assertions about them, and not without the pain that comes with scraping away layers of illusion. I have heard inane things, offensive things, worthless things said about the Scriptures and from the Scriptures, but mostly not from my own teachers, and I have not been left seeing the Scriptures themselves as inane or offensive or useless, and I am sad for those who have.

I have not inherited or learned the Scriptures so well as to experience them as my own secure possession, or the Spirit that speaks through them as my personal genie whom I may summon and command at will. I always have to approach them as a suppliant, hoping and praying that Someone will open my eyes, because otherwise I will not behold wondrous things. I experience longing for God’s ordinances because I do not experience ownership and mastery of them. And each time the opening of the eyes is once again granted, I experience delight, because it was never to be taken for granted that it would happen again this time.

Originally posted on Facebook on May 25, 2021

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