I have been debating as to how exactly I want to use this blog. I’ve made a couple of starts only to delete posts and start all over again. This time I think I have landed on a productive use of this blog. It would seem that one simple verse of scripture impressed on my heart at the onset of 2019 has turned into a thing. At first I just assumed that boredom had taken its toll and needing something to occupy my time I would do a bit of digging further into the verse. So here’s my verse:
“Set up for yourself roadmarks,
Place for yourself guideposts;
Direct your mind to the highway,
The way by which you went.
Return, O virgin of Israel,
Return to these your cities.
Seems pretty simple. Right? It started out as an encouragement to my heart. My devotional time had stagnated. My prayer life had stalled and I was looking for some solid direction, a Holy Spirit kickstart, so to speak. What I felt like God speaking to me through this verse was, “Betty, get back to what you know. Get back on track. Don’t worry about what movie you can stream today. Turn off that Jelly Juice game. Stop spending so much time on Facebook and step away from the computer.” Yeah, all those things needed to happen. I was just filling time, drifting along. Drifting is okay. Actually drifting is a good thing when God has you in a season of drifting. And I’ve been in a three year season of drifting. It was not purposeless. I needed a respite.
My first response to what I felt impressed by the Holy Spirit was, “Oh good, that means I’m going to have something to do. Great. Let’s get going. I’m ready.” Enough zoning out with mindless activity. It’s like when winter has lasted way too long, cabin fever set a while ago and you’re chewing on the doorknob trying to escape. I was ready for something to do. I wasn’t ready for what God had planned. And it sort of crept up on me while I was following God’s instructions. I was being led to be more purposefully focused in my devotional time. Rather than drifting from one random passage to another I was being prompted to dig a little deeper into this verse.
Okay, I can do this. I have purpose. I have focus. Let’s jump in. So I grab my journal and my laptop with gusto and dove in. My first step when digging deeper into a verse is to go into the Hebrew and see what gets uncovered in the original language. I’m not a Hebrew scholar by any means. However, I learned a method of studying Biblical Hebrew for devotional purposes. (more on this in a future blog) I won’t go into all the gruesome details here but suffice to say I look at the specifics of each word. The Lord will typically impress something on my heart which gives me a fuller understanding of what God is communicating to me through that verse. Like I said, it is an aspect of my devotional life.
I did that with this verse in Jeremiah 31. As the month unfolded direction from the Lord unfolded as well. Since I had been on my extended hiatus I wasn’t expecting much of a response to my prayer, “So, what’s the focus for this year?” I also didn’t comprehend the magnitude of what the Lord was communicating to me when He answered, “This year you will be writing.” To which my follow up question was, “So what am I writing?” And He answer, “A lot.”
As these past eight weeks of 2019 have marched forward I was surprised when God expounded on His initial communication. To which I responded,“Oh, you’re serious about this?!?” It’s not that I thought God didn’t mean what He said. I know better. It’s just that there are times when we get impressed with something that we think is God and we continue to pray about it and when it doesn’t pan out you come to the conclusion that it was more you than it was God. So you credit the experience to well, experience and you move on. Then there are the times God confirms what you were initially impressed with and you gain a broader understanding of God’s intention.
Okay, I’m avoiding the details so here goes. The Lord told me bluntly that He wanted me to focus on writing the book He had commissioned me to write nearly 34 years ago. To be precise in 1985 the Lord spoke to me very specifically. He said, “You are going to write a book.” He didn’t ask. He didn’t elaborate. He didn’t give me a subject. He didn’t give me a timeframe, except that He said there was something I had to live through first. Several times over the years I’ve asked about that book. Several times I thought I knew what the subject was going to be. I was wrong every time. But I have pondered. I’ve pondered a lot.
One thing I have pondered has been when God told me that there was something I was going to have to live through first He didn’t tell me what that something was. But He did tell me that it was going to take twelve years. Let’s face it, it’s been nearly three twelve year periods since then. I’ve lived through a lot. And what does that even mean that I had to live through something first? What did I have to live through and how was that going to impact writing this book? And WHAT IS THE SUBJECT???!!!
Isaiah 55:8-9 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
So here’s where I’m going with this. What the Lord has brought to light over these past eight weeks of 2019 is that now is the time to write the infamous book. I’m pretty clueless as to the finer details. What I do know has thrown me for a loop. I’m reeling and I know I’m in over my head. So if this actually gets accomplished it will be at the hand of God.
So here’s what the Lord has communicated to me about how I am to approach writing this book. I know I am opening myself to criticism just by sharing this aspect but at this point I don’t mind that. Everyone has an opinion. Since I didn’t choose the subject or the approach I will direct my critics to the One who is commissioning me to write this book. Having said that, gulp, gulp hard, I will be writing with a similar approach as that of a dissertation. The only difference is I don’t have a professor to submit my work to. I don’t have research assistants or a team of people to bounce ideas off. I have God. He’s the Advisor. He’s the examining committee. He is the One determining methodology, resources and the subject matter. What do I get to do? I get to learn how to write a disssertation without knowing what I’m doing or actually working toward a Doctorate.
Here’s a few other tidbits to add to the mix. I have been instructed to blend this dissertational style of approach with basic Biblical exegesis. If that doesn’t nail things down I don’t know what will. But wait, there’s more. Considering that this work will include the Old Testament passage from Jeremiah, as well as other OT references, I will also be applying somewhat of a revised version of PARDES interpretation (Hebrew exegesis).
The four levels of PARDES interpretation are called: Pashat, Remez, D’rash & Sod. The first letter of each word P-R-D-S is taken, and vowels are added for pronunciation, giving the word PARDES, like paradise (meaning “garden” or “orchard”). Each layer reveals another aspect of interpretation and understanding.
So the long and the short of it is this. I am going to use this blog to chronicle my journey. I am giving myself the year of 2019 to work on this project. They say it takes about ten months to actually do the work for a disssertation. Since I don’t know what I’m doing I have to learn more than just my subject. I have to learn the approach. So in an effort to process the process I am going to write one entry each week which details what I am learning along the way. Sometimes it will be about the nuts and bolts of the process. Sometimes it will be notes about my subject and insights I discover through my research.
I have to learn all the aspects that go into writing a dissertation. I have to learn the basic elements of biblical exegesis. And I have to do the research on the subject itself. Then I have to somehow put that all together into a cohesive format. And I am doing this without the aid and assistance of educated professionals. YIKES! I intend to submit this work for some kind of review when it is completed. What that looks like at this point is something that will get worked out over the course of the year.
As I meander my way through this process you will hear my thrills and my frustrations. Oh, joy, for joy. I am looking forward to seeing where I end up.
So, I’m here. I’m awake, at least I think I’m awake. Here we go.