This is a guest post by Rev. Sharon Reid as a follow up to last weekend’s message, How do I read the Bible?
My sacred space is right in the middle of our living room on the chaise end of our sofa. It’s a really comfortable spot and while sitting there I can look out on our backyard and see trees, water, birds and a whole bunch of really busy squirrels. When it’s too dark to see outside, I turn on a YouTube video of nature. My current favorite is a beautiful 4k video of Mount Rainier National Park with no background music, just the sounds of nature – sounds God created. I’ve intentionally chosen this spot and this atmosphere based on things I’ve learned about myself and how I best connect with God in solitude.
In the wintertime, I sit on the chaise under a blanket, with a cup of hot tea, a little breakfast and a lighted candle nearby. I begin with our First 15 daily devotional. Then, I take time to finish off my cup and just sit for a few minutes, resting in what I’ve read and what I’m sensing God is prompting me to understand before getting up to find that second cup of hot tea.
When I come back to the chaise, I spend time with The Grand Sweep, a study that’s guiding me to read through the Bible in a year. I keep my bible, the study guide and a pen on the sofa all the time so I don’t have any excuses. Interestingly, I use a little reading light to read by. I don’t know exactly why this is, but when I keep the room a bit dark and I shine light on the pages of the Bible I feel more engaged with what I’m reading and pay closer attention to the words. I’ve been reading about three chapters a day and I’ve been marking up my bible with a lot of questions and new connections I see in the stories. Don’t tell my mom I’ve been writing in my bible! lol!
When I’m not using a study like The Grand Sweep, I use the 4R practice – read, reflect, respond and rest. Here’s what it looks like:
- Read the scripture slowly. Watch for a key phrase or word that jumps out at you or seems to have special meaning for you. Circle or underline that word or phrase and read that passage slowly another time or two.
- Reflect on the words or phrases that have special meaning. Let the key word or phrase sink in deeply. Reflect on it’s meaning and think about how it applies to your life.
- Respond with God about what you have read. Ask, “What are you saying to me today, Lord? What do you want me to hear?” Listen quietly for a few minutes. Form a prayer that expresses your response to what you have heard and share your thoughts with God.
- Rest in God’s word. Simply “be with” God as you open yourself to a deeper understanding. If you feel drawn back to read the passage again, follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. Savor this time with God. Ask God to show you how to live out what you have experienced.
I realize the atmosphere of my sacred space could appear a bit self-indulgent – a chaise lounge and blanket, a 4k video, a cup of hot tea. And, early on it may have felt a bit self-indulgent and all-about-me. But somewhere along the way, I came to understand that the design of my sacred space is really an expression of God’s hospitality toward me. I’m God’s treasured guest for some great conversation and a cup of hot tea or two each morning.