This weekend I was able to be part of a men’s retreat led by Brian Hardin of the Daily Audio Bible. It was a great chance to get away for a day and enjoy God’s presence with some other men – some who I share life with, and some that I had never met before. That sounds like the cliche description of a men’s retreat, but it really was a great piece of the weekend.
During the retreat we shared a few discussions about the importance of having the Bible in our lives. Not as a ritual or something we check off our list every day, but as a true companion through life. I’ve come to love the time I spend in the word through the Daily Audio Bible, but have been wanting to find a way to step back and dig in a bit more lately beyond my daily chunk of the Word and a weekly visit to church to hear a sermon.
Brian shared a model with us known as Lectio Divina. It’s an ancient method of diving into God’s word in a way that, to me, is much more “whole” than the simply reading or listening to of a passage and then going on with life. It’s almost like making a meal out of the Word… you pick your food, you chew on it, you chew on it some more, you process it, and it eventually is transformed into the energy that gives you LIFE. I’m not going into detail on Lectio Divina here, though… I want to jot down something specific to my story (since that’s what I do here).
We spent some time diving into Psalm 23 together in this method. First we read the Psalm together – out loud – in several translations. Then we chewed on it, privately, and together. Then we shared, and then we chewed… much like a cow, chewing it’s cud, over, and over, and over… and every time, more began to jump out. Even in this familiar Psalm, we heard things we’d never heard before.
What jumped out at me were these particular words as read from the New English Translation:
You prepare a feast before me
in plain sight of my enemies.
In all my years, I’ve heard this line – “you prepare a table before me…” and never really thought about what that meant. A FEAST. Not a quick snack. a FEAST. Right there, smack dab in the middle of warfare and enemies on all side, the Lord prepares me a FEAST. When we’re feasting, we’re not worrying. When we’re feasting, we’re laughing, sharing stories, and completely relaxed. I get that, but “in plain sight of my enemies?” That is not something I’ve ever really thought was offered.
This weekend I received that very feast. Between the men’s retreat, my friends from the DAB being in town, a family gathering, and wonderful fellowship on Sunday, this weekend was truly a FEAST for me. Blessing abounding, here, there, and everywhere.
The thing is, though, enemies were all around. Busy-ness as we prepared the weekend. A death in the family. A demand letter for $900 that showed up unexpectedly in the mail that I must address. An upset client. Enemies. Fear. Dread. Stress. Worry. Those are my enemies. And yet in the midst of that, the Lord prepared me a FEAST of fellowship, and even of actual food (man, was that good stuff!).
In the midst of my battles, my God prepared me a feast. He brought it to my doorstep, dined with me, and put my enemies at bay. As I launch myself back into the fray, I don’t consider that weekend lost or even a distant memory. It is an integral part of my walk, a rest along the way and a reminder of my Father’s love.
I’m so glad that I had the chance to glean this new insight from Psalm 23. To chew on it for several days and relish it. Wanna give it a try? It is hard to stop. To unwind. To read out loud when you could skim. To read again, and again, and again. To stop. To listen.
But it’s good.