Saturday, July 17, 2010

My beloved Bettina loved me enough today to listen to me butcher the first ten verses of the first chapter of the Gospel of John in Greek.  My reading was agonizingly slow and just plain atrocious.  Even with my best friend, it was completely embarrassing to stumble letter-by-letter.  But I want very much to learn classical Greek. I want very much to read the New Testament in its original language.

I really need someone to practice with who actually knows Greek, someone who can help correct my mispronunciation.  But the pastors I know are busy and are not really in the business of being a Greek study partner.  They are there to give the means of grace, serve as the hands and voice of Christ in binding up the wounds around them, and to watch over their flocks.  Helping me study doesn't really fit with those duties.

I asked Pastor E to check to see if there might be study partners in the class, but most seem to already have a built-in-partner in their spouse.  I have been dutifully reading aloud each and every day, but I am pretty sure I am making the same mistakes and my fluency, as judged by speed and automaticity, has not improved.  Oh, how it would be most helpful if I could actually hear how the words are supposed to sound rather than the garbled mush that comes out of my mouth.

Am I not just plain crazy for thinking I learn a language, much less learn classical Greek?


I am reminded me of my baptism, that Christ is always with me.  I am reminded that Christ is caring for me.  I admit that I have sort of responded, "Yes, but...."  Thinking...but I am still alone here in this life, in this town, and that life is pretty difficult.  "Yes, but..." has been on my tongue more than I actually care to admit when it comes to the sufficiency of Christ.

To be fair, this is because I still find myself falling back into thinking I must do something for my faith with so many years of errant doctrine under my belt.  I think of how weak I am and how miserably I fail at trusting, believing, looking forward in hope, expecting....  Oh, I have embraced with my whole heart, my whole being, the pure teaching of Lutheran doctrine; as I have said, it all fits.  I am a sinner; this I know.  I cannot do any thing to save me, make myself righteous; this I know.  Yet I keep finding myself falling back into looking at my life, my actions, everything, through the lens of what I am or am not doing, what I must or must not do, how strong or weak is my faith.

[Were I to actually re-read my blog, I am sure this lament is frequent over at least the past six months, this awareness of struggling to shed such a terrible burden God never meant for me to carry.]

I have come to think that, in the past few months and weeks, I have taken in more than I can really absorb.  More than even I realize.  Only... this evening I was skimming some Luther, just moving from sermon to sermon, commentary to commentary, and it sort of hit me that even in the study of the theology of the cross, even in the close study of doctrine I have been doing for 13 months now, I have not truly grasped the enormity of the sufficiency of the cross...what Christ crucified really means.

In this strange way, I feel as if I were punched in the stomach, left gasping for breath.  Everything I was reading was about Christ, not so much about me.  It was about what He does, not what I do.  And all over the place were those helpful things to say to the devil while under assault.  All of them reminders of Christ and His faith, not about mine...because mine is His. 

Then, I opened the 101 Things book and today's thing that Christ does for us, for me, is about sufficiency.  Yes, Lord, I hear You....

I have failed to shed the fear I feel when my heart rate is dropping and my vision blackens or when it skyrockets in the middle of the night.  But, no matter what may come of those things, He will be sufficient even to that.  Lord, help me remember this truth....

I tackled the first round of culling books and now have 126 stacked on my stairs, waiting for a new home.   Forty-six of them are evangelical Protestant books that I now believe are in error, for they fail to place the cross as our only theology, as sufficient for all.  Someday, it is my fervent hope, there shall come a time when those damn works-based glasses I find myself wearing again and again will fall away for good.

May it be so, Lord.  May it be!  Lord, have mercy!  Christ, have mercy!  Lord, have mercy!

I can do everything through him who gives me strength.  ~Philippians 4:13


When we first set out to do something difficult and challenging, we wonder if we'll have enough strength to finish it.  Will our lungs hold out or will we collapse halfway up the mountain?  Will we be able to see our loved one through an illness or will we lose heart?

Paul's exultation in Philippians 4:12-13 is that no matter what task was set before him or what trials he endured, he had found the strength of Christ to be completely sufficient.  He could do all things through His perfect strength.  Christ is always, Paul's life declares, completely enough.

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

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