Matney: A mother’s dilemma
4 Eagle Senior Care is an interdenominational ministry that serves older adults in the Vail and Eagle River Valley. Among the numerous programs we have, including light handyman services, transportation, intergenerational activities, pastoral and end-of-life ministry, we deliver nutritional lunches each week to homebound and other seniors.
Our chef, Barbara, creates some amazing meals. Some of the food she uses comes from a local food bank, but she never knows for sure what will be available. But Barbara is a master at adding a few other ingredients from the store and her fridge and freezer and whipping up some culinary masterpieces. She frequently gets rave reviews from the seniors on how good her meals are.
Today, on Mother’s Day, I hope your family is taking you out for lunch, but you, like many other women, have probably faced the dilemma of going to your pantry, fridge, and freezer, and trying to figure out what to feed your family. There’s frozen meat in the freezer, a cake mix in the cupboard, and leftovers in the fridge. Help! You might be tempted to call Barbara for some help putting a meal together.
Reading the Bible can be like going to the food bank and the freezer. It can seem like a disorganized hodgepodge of unrelated ingredients that are cold, frozen, hard, unappetizing, and unappealing. There are a lot of raw ingredients in the scriptures, but as Barbara does with food, a person can learn to mix Bible ingredients to create tasty, nutritional, spiritual meals for themselves and their family.
But people learning to cook, and people learning to read the Bible don’t usually start with seven-course meals and intense, seven-chapter Bible studies. And you don’t need either of those to feed your family and feed your soul. It’s advisable to start much simpler and slower so you don’t burn out and quit learning.
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It’s perfectly fine to grab a bowl, a box of cereal, and a carton of milk and have breakfast. Many a mother has done that for her children from time to time and no one is the worse for it. And anyone can open a can of soup and heat it in the microwave. This is just fine until you have the time and ability to prepare more.
In the same way, reading, understanding, enjoying, and benefitting from the Bible doesn’t require a seminary degree or hours of study. Simply set the Bible on your table, and with a cup of coffee in your hand, begin to read and meditate on a few verses of scripture every day and ask God to nourish you with them. Then take the concepts you’ve read about and share them with your children and others.
At first, the Bible might seem as dry as a cracker, but as you faithfully read, and ask God to help you, you will begin to see how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. (I know, I just changed the metaphor from meal creation to puzzle completion!). And that happens in the Bible also. For example, metaphors for the kingdom of God shift from being a field, a house, or a man, to fishing, etc.
With time and patience, you can learn to see the shifts in focus and meaning in the Bible, but you don’t have to for enjoying and benefiting from some simple reading and thinking about the scriptures. Please let me encourage you to make a regular habit of reading and meditating on the scriptures and then sharing them with your family.
Start with at least two sections of scripture: the gospel of John in the New Testament, in the mornings, and the poetry of Psalms in the Old Testament, in the evening. For more experienced readers, read from different Bible versions or passages from the Pentateuch, the Prophets, the Poets, the Gospels, and the Epistles. Jesus said in Matthew 13:52 that every student and teacher of the scriptures is to seek out treasures new and old to share with others.
Over time, with consistency in reading, praying, studying, and working with a pastor or others, you can learn how to blend the treasures of the Old Testament and the New Testament into something life-enhancing for yourself and your children. It truly is worth the effort.
Since I’ve had the privilege of working with Barbara, I’ve learned a lot about food preparation and meal creation. And I’ve got a lot more to learn! But I don’t have to go at it alone. And you don’t have to stare at the Bible and wonder how to nourish yourself and your family from God’s wisdom, justice, inspiration, and love. You can start simply and slowly and ask for help from a pastor or others who are experienced at creating nourishing meals from the pantry of God’s word.
You don’t have to face a mother’s dilemma on what to feed your family, all by yourself. We have a lot of good local pastors and others who would be very happy for you to call us and let us help you understand and enjoy your Bible more fully.
Dan Matney is the pastor at New Life Assembly of God in Avon. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.