Monday, January 29, 2007

90 Day Reading Reflections

The 90 Day Bible reading has been going well for me. I am reading a ton of Scripture and I'm enjoying it. As I read, I have found that I have so many questions. It troubles me because it seems to imply that there is so much of God that I do not understand. I am struck with how little I "get" him, and it sorta makes wonder, because I thought I knew him better.

All of this has brought to mind an experience from my college days which seems to illustrate my thoughts well. Allow me to explain.

In the spring of 1995, the majority of my time was devoted to my student teaching at Springfield North High School. What little time was left after school and lesson planning was divided up between sleeping, eating, and sending out resumes. Not too many interviews actually happened, which is okay, I guess, since I didn't really have a lot of time for them. But when the opportunity to interview presented itself, I always took it given the fact that I wanted to, you know, work after I graduated. It didn't really matter too much whether the school was one I wanted to work at. There just weren't a lot of jobs to choose from.

I found myself leaving my students early one day so that I could make it to an interview at the local Catholic high school. Was it my dream job? No. But it was a job. It was also my first interview aside from the recruiters who came to campus from districts around Ohio.

I've never liked interviewing, and I think I have realized, looking back, that I wasn't very good at it either. (Which one caused the other, I don't know.) This particular interview was being conducted by the principal of the high school, a friendly priest. He'd asked his assitant prinicpal to join him; a nun whom I remember to be sort of gruff.

I have absolutely no recollection of what we discussed in that interview - except for the one question that the nun asked me. She said, "if you were going to conduct a lesson on Atomic Theory, how would you go about it?"

My immediate thought was, this question is totally unfair. I don't know if that's true, but that's how it seemed to me. I'd spend HOURS every day planning lessons for my student teaching. A lesson plan to me meant: what kind of strategies will I use to teach for understanding, how will I evaluate, what teaching method is best suited for different learners, how will I connect this to real life... How could I possibly come up with a lesson plan capable of impressing someone enough to want to hire me, on the fly?

Besides that, I was a SENIOR chemistry major. Had she asked me to explain the intricacies of gas chromatography, I would have been very comfortable. But she asked me about something I'd covered more than three years earlier in a small section of a single chapter, when I was a freshman in general chemistry. It was a standard topic for a high school student, but I'd have to reach waaaaaaaaay back for this one.

I paused. And this is what went through my head...

Who was the Atomic Theory guy? Dalton? I think that was his name. What was his first name? Charles? Okay, if you aren't sure, don't say the first name, just say "Dalton." Ha, Ha. Like this matters anyway. She's asking about Atomic Theory because it is the only important sounding term she can think of. Everybody who had high school chemistry remembers there was this thing called "Atomic Theory," but she doesn't have any clue. Alright, so, don't make stuff up, but whatever you do, sound confident.

I spewed out something about Dalton, speaking his name confidently, even though I was unsure at that point if even THAT was the right name. I wanted to talk specifics, but I just couldn't create a lesson that fast in my head. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I remember thinking that, while the answer didn't satisfy ME, it probably sounded just fine to someone who certainly wouldn't have known any better.

After the interview, I toured the school with the friendly priest. Just the two of us. He showed me the lab. Us science teachery folk get real excited about nice labs. You sorta start picturing yourself doing demos and labs and such and it gets you a bit dreamy. It was a nice lab, so I started to get excited.

Then friendly priest said of the papers piled in the room, "These belong to (gruff nun.) She has been teaching chemistry here for many years, but will be devoting herself full-time to the assistant principal role. You will be replacing her."

I looked at friendly priest man, and said something very clever like "Oh, that's great," which was code for "no. No I won't be replacing her. Because when you go back to your office, she will be waiting for you, and you don't know this yet, but she is going to tell you that I am totally clueless about even the most elementary of concepts from high school chemistry."

The next day, I told my two co-operating teachers at North High School about the incomplete, and utterly lame answer I'd given to the atomic theory question. They assured me that it wasn't that bad. But I knew better.... and the friendly priest did not call to offer me the job.

What does all this have to do with reading the Bible?

In a lot of ways, this 90 Day reading experience has been just like that interview all over again. I know there are things I know about Scripture, and I know there are things that I don't know. By reading the Bible at this pace, one thing I have come to realize is that I take what I do know for granted - as if it makes up for what I don't know. In the mean time, I sort of just gloss over the stuff I don't understand. Maybe I've just been thinking "After all, who is going to know the difference?"

The answer, as it turns out, is that God knows the difference. Though he is nothing like a gruff nun to me, he is certainly aware of where my understanding is faulty, and he is aware that most of the time I don't even realize it. I just slide on by, forgetting, I guess, that he knows.

Yet, he knows. And what he has shown me in just the first seven books of the Bible is that my understanding of him is at best incomplete, and at worst utterly lame. He's gracious to me, no doubt. He does not scorn. I don't feel, as was the case with the interview, like running away and hiding. Rather, by his grace, I am sure, it makes me want to pursue him more. It makes me want to seek him out, sit at his feet, and let him teach me. It makes me want to stop using what I do know as a crutch for not understanding more. The harder stuff - the "huh? what is THAT about, God?" stuff; the stuff that doesn't have a simple answer.

I guess I have realized that, when there is something of God that I don't understand, I have been coming up with lame answers and assuming he doesn't know any better. This study has really brought that to light because I am seeing, over and over, how God doesn't always fit into my understanding of him.

All in all, I have been shown that I have treated God a lot like I did that nun... the way I laughed her off in an effort to comfort myself into believing that my knowledge was good enough the way it was. Dangerous thinking, even when it's just a nun who knows her chemistry.

But when it's God? I'm completely humbled.


I confess my self-righteous attitude toward you. I confess that I have taken you for granted and that, in my meager understanding of you, I have made much less of you than who you really are. Please forgive me for this. And forgive me for acting like you'd never know any better.

You don't fit the mold I've made for you, and you aren't supposed to. Please remind me of this, and give me wisdom and understanding. Enlarge my thoughts of you, my understanding of you, my love for you, and my reverence for you.

Please show me who you are in all of your godness. Please remind me that fooling myself about who you are will never be good for me, and it will prevent me from knowing you for who you really are. Don't ever let me try to make you fit my mold again. Though I may act like that's what I want, it's not truly the desire of my heart.

Whatever it means for you to be God, please be that to me. Even if I don't undestand it, help me to accept it and to turn to you for the wisdom to understand. Yes, please be God to me - not the one I make up, not the one I am vaguely familiar with, but The Real One, whoever that ends up being.

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Blogger BooMama said...

Lori - this is just beautiful. Beautiful.

I very badly...can'

But I won't until you grant me permission. :-) Just email me a yay or nay.

Tue Jan 30, 12:20:00 AM  
Blogger Sarah's In the Midst of It said...

Evidently you gave permission:)

I love the analogy! I'm reading through this year, too (not in 90 days, though) and have realized I leave each time with more questions than answers. Sometimes it frustrates me, and sometimes I love knowing how much I don't know about Him! Thanks for this post:)

Tue Jan 30, 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Krista said...

I am reading this 90 day Bible as well. I LOVE IT! I am only at Genesis 47 so I am behind you, but I cant wait to read everyday. It is so weird, when I use to sit down and TRY to read through the Bible, I would always get through one chapter and give up because I just didnt understand it, but now I completely understand it and cant wait to see what happens next. It is amazing to see how God worked throughout these lives. Someone told me about your blog because you were doing this reading as well. I wish you luck and Blessings.

Tue Jan 30, 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Sister said...

Great analogy and well-written post.

Tue Jan 30, 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Tami said...

Yes. Thank you. The Bible reading plan sounds great. Aren't you so thankful that God's grace is sufficient, that he knows that we are but dust and loves us?

Tue Jan 30, 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger Mama Lily said...

Thanks for posting this. I sent you an email.

Tue Jan 30, 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger Clemntine said...

Humbling and encouraging. Thank you.

Tue Jan 30, 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger Mishel said...

Excellent post...and very timely for me. I actually printed off the 90-day reading schedule (from another blog~this is my first time here) and have not started it. I believe the Lord has used your post to give me a gentle nudge to get started. Thanks! : )

Tue Jan 30, 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger Sunydazy said...

Wow! So convicting...
Thank you!
I would like to link to this from my quiet little blogging corner...

Wed Jan 31, 01:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Patrick said...

I found your blog when searching for posts about The Bible in 90 Days and thought I'd see how it was going. My wife and I did it together last year and now I am hosting two groups through it at our church. The program has been a great blessing. Happy reading. BTW, really enjoy your blog.

Sat Feb 10, 09:33:00 PM  
Blogger Luisa Perkins said...

Lori, this is one of your best posts ever. And I should know. I love, love, love it. Did you finish the Bible in 90 days? Don't answer; I'll find out as I read on.

Tue Apr 03, 05:39:00 PM  

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