The Journey So Far
It was January 12, 2019 when the Lord revealed what He had planned for me for this year, the book. Like everything else that gets communicated via the Holy Spirit my spirit (the eternal place where God resides within) received the information with gladness. My soul (human intellect involving the mind, will & emotions) was freaking out. I wish I was more like Mary after receiving the news of being with child by the Holy Spirit.
Luke 1:46-47 And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
Despite my initial freak out at the prospect of actually writing the book God commissioned me to write thirty four years ago I’m adjusting and settling in to the idea. So why freak out in the first place? Because even as I write this I’m still not quite sure where this is going. I have been studying scripture for as long as I can remember. I love the presence of God. And by that I mean I enjoy and delight in the manifested presence of God. I just simply enjoy God. My daily communion with God involves exchanging intimate thoughts and feelings. I share with Him. He shares with me. It’s private. It’s intimate and I don’t usually share what transpires between us publicly. I am a firm believer that certain things are between you and God.
Three specific things are to remain between you and Father God, (Matthew 6:6, 8 & 18) the gifts you bestow on others, your prayer life, and fasting. I interpret these to include but not limited: spouting off on what I do for someone else, whatever outcome such as direction, instruction, or encouragement I receive from God through communion with Him, and the internal struggle I am having. At the same time I believe as a spiritual leader of sorts we lead by example and not merely what we preach or teach.
My Grandfather, who went home to be with the Lord in 2011 at the age of ninety-seven was my example. He had simple childlike faith and a practical hands-on approach to passing on what he believed to his descendants.
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; 7 and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.
37 And He [Jesus] said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 “This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
These two verses were Grandpa’s motto. We heard them repeated daily. He repeated them when we were eating dinner. He said them when we were playing ball together, or roller skating or riding bikes. He repeated them when we were sitting in the house. He said them when were out for a walk. Another daily mantra of Grandpa’s was “Words trickle into the ear, but example thunders in the mind.” He was right. Grandpa’s example was simple. It was uncomplicated and straightforward. There was no fluff, no self promotion. He simply conveyed what he believed not only by his words but through his actions. He was a simple man and he taught a simple faith. Mind you, he did not convey what some might refer to as cheap grace. He was fully aware of the ultimate price Christ paid for our salvation. Grandpa was humble and contrite. He never ever felt like he deserved Christ’s love or merited His salvation. He was a grateful recipient.
But I digress. Let’s get back to the story. So… the book, yeah… the book. It’s not that I am unaccustomed to sharing publicly. I’m not. I preached and taught in church and parachurch settings. I was codirector of a local parachurch ministry. I have taught in home groups and facilitated support groups. The latter being a setting in which being vulnerable and disclosing of one’s personal life necessary. At the same time most support groups are anonymous and what is said in group stays private within the group. Because of the nature of ministry sharing one’s personal struggles and intimate fears becomes a part of the job so to speak. And while I don’t have a hard time sharing my struggle I have to admit that opening myself up to criticism isn’t exactly my favorite thing to do.
Anyone who has written a book, preached a message, or merely had an opinion they dared to share has come under public scrutiny. In our modern social media driven society being scrutinized by the world around us has gone to ludicrous speed. Public opinion has the potential to misconstrue and take out of context something that has been said and the next thing you know you’ve been blacklisted and ostracized before you even get out of bed. At the same time I believe in the compassion and empathic nature resident in humanity. While there are those who enjoy harming others with their opinions I believe those who gave a good word willing to cheer someone on to victory out weigh the naysayers.
Today I am encouraging myself to be courageous and share the ongoing struggle. Today’s struggle is that of age. I am fifty-nine years old. My eyesight is a bit blurry and my capacity for taking in new information has a daily limit. I can’t spend eight hours a day taking trying to learn something new. I have to break the tasks down into small bite-size portions. I’ve devised a plan. I have two major areas that pose a major learning curve for me. They have nothing to do with my topic but have everything to do with method. So learning the method at this point precedes researching my topic, at least to a point.
Rather than flood my poor old mind with stuff that will flush out by the next morning I am taking a practical and long-term approach. I can’t take short cuts. If I do I won’t make it through the year. So I am taking one step at a time. The first step has been to study how to write a dissertation. Thankfully there are a number of online resources. I made a trip to my local library. I started working through two of the five books I borrowed.
Here are the main resources I will be using to accomplish my task.
Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses and Dissertations 9th ed. This book explains the fundamentals and I believe will give me a pretty solid framework with which to assemble my research. Writing with a Thesis: A Rhetoric and Reader 8th ed. by David Skwire & Sarah Skwire has more to do with the art of writing. I am hoping that it will help me with style and presentation of content.
For aiding the exegetical aspect of this work I am referring to Douglas Stuart’s Old Testament Exegesis 4th ed. Kindle Edition. This resource should facilitate for nailing down the biblical study aspects which apply to my research.
For the actual biblical study itself I have a number of resources available. My trusty PC Study Bible by Biblesoft has an extensive library. It contains a number of bible versions as well as an Interlinear, Hebrew and Greek Lexicons, including Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, and a plethora of other references. I also use a number of online resources.
I will update my list and post one page with links in the days and weeks ahead. I will be breaking down the steps into manageable tasks. In the days ahead I hope to have a loose timeframe for going forward with this project. Once I establish the framework I will begin to work on the research. Right now I am still in defining mode. I am giving myself time to work out the kinks before I settle in to the actually conducting the study and research.
Wish me luck.