It’s such a darned big book, and it’s been around for so long–isn’t it just kind of tired? What else could be in it that’s useful? It’s so full of misogyny and slavery and oppression and violence; why do we even bother anymore? Can’t God reveal God’s self better to me just by my own quiet contemplation?
Indeed. Let’s toss the Bible in the wood chipper.
It’s best used as mulch anyhow.
What is it that mulch does, exactly? Well, I’m no gardening expert, but I’ve seen how it chokes out weeds and how it keeps the ground around my bushes and vegetable plants from getting very dried out. What if Scripture, liberally applied–as mulch ought to be–does the same things?
Without mulch–like the condition of my yard the last two years–weeds thrive. They grow tall and strong and stubborn. I tell myself that weeds’ roots help keep the sandy “soil” of my South Carolina yard from totally eroding, but really, weeds are invasive, sometimes downright destructive, and definitely undesirably bountiful (stealing nutrients, water, sun, and space from those plants which you want to thrive). Reading Scripture regularly–religiously–is like mulching one’s heart and mind. Spreading God’s Word throughout our fertile little brains keeps evil thoughts at bay. It’s common sense, really: if we want our hearts to produce good fruit (hopeful thought patterns, compassion for others, clear love of neighbor) then we’ve got to not only pull out bad-habit weeds, but keep them from sprouting up again.
Scripture, applied to our daily lives in a thick layer, not only reorients our minds and hearts toward God, but also provides protection in times of trouble. Now that it’s July, my garden’s received plenty of rain, but for a few weeks in June, things were dry indeed. Yet un-mulched, I was watering my garden beds every day and hardly keeping up with the blistering sun’s effects. Further, when rains did come, the sandy soil couldn’t hold on to a lick of moisture, and the sudden downpours washed my yard away very alarmingly indeed.
Like hammered hardwood, praying the Psalms, drawing inspiration from the prophets, and taking Jesus’ sermons to heart fill us up with nourishment and act as a protective layer when the storms of life threaten to flood us, or the drying sun and wind of a desert wilderness must be endured. Instead of standing on sand, when we cover our lives over with reading the Bible, God’s Word keeps our foundations in place. Instead of one hot day shriveling up our roots, the Bible’s wisdom is truly a just-add-water solution.
Though I’m generally leery of super-simple, quick-fix answers, especially when it comes to spirituality (thank you, Joel Osteen), this really is one of them. Of course, like gardening, the more time and effort you devote, especially over a long span–years, a lifetime–of time, the more you will enjoy in produce.