Thursday, February 18, 2010
The other I remember is reader response. This theory says that the meaning we draw from the text changes according to who is doing the reading. Not only can the effect of a text be different from person to person, but it can also change from time to time of encountering the text.
This past week, I've found this to be true of the Bible. Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that the Bible has changed. But I've been looking into a passage of Scripture now that I was studying a few years ago and, with the experiences that I've had since last studying, have gained a completely new understanding.
Psalm 139 - it's a pretty well known Psalm. In the discipleship group I am a member of, we looked into this text over two years ago. I was in the throes of trying to get pregnant but we had been unsuccessful. I was watching friends of mine all over the place have babies and couldn't understand what God was doing. We looked into Psalms and beginning in verse 13 read,
For You formed my
You wove me in my
I will give thanks to you,
for I am fearfully and
Wonderful are your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in the secret,
And skillfully wrought in
the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in your book were written
all the days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
Our leader, Erilynne, elaborated on the meaning of the Psalm saying that before time began, before any body was formed, before He called into existence life where there was no life, He knew the exact time that was chosen for the person to come into being and exactly what womb should be the one to carry it. Were it any other time or any other womb, it would not be the person God wanted.
This had a profound impact on me as a woman unable at the time to conceive a child. To begin to believe that there was a child that God had ordained for me to carry in my womb, created to be the perfect child not only for me, but for the perfect time in the history of the world, called to do HIS work - it made it harder to question why not me and why not now. This wasn't an easy truth for me to grasp, but it was truth nonetheless and I had to begin to live my life choosing to believe the truth as opposed to feeling sorry for myself (which I still did plenty, trust me).
Flash forward a few years. I'm now facilitating another Bible study, going through the same discipleship program. Last week we did the first half of the lesson on Psalm 139. I was amazed at how differently I read the Psalm and listened to this teaching now, having the child that God has given me. He created Lydia and knew her when there was no life in my womb. He knit her body together. This is a tough one for me to hold onto, because even though I know it's true, to recognize this truth is to accept that He knit her together in this broken way.
This was what He needed her to be. For this time, for His purpose - this is what He needed her to be. That's a hard truth to stomach every day, but it is truth.
That last verse gets me ever time. All of her days were ordained by Him before she had lived one of them. If I have to let her go, I know that even though it will feel like the wrong time in every way, it won't be. And I can argue all I want that it is too soon, but it won't be. Because He knew before He formed her the exact amount of days that He needed her to live to accomplish His purpose. And I know not every day will feel this way and some days I will shake my fist at Him in the pain and anger only a mother who has lost a child can know.
But it won't change the reality that what He created, what He worked, He will carry out to complete His perfect will. It's just the truth.