something for today.

I published three posts last week about Nehemiah’s rule of life. They weren’t telling the whole story fast enough. I finally gave up and shared a link for the whole conversation.

A few weeks ago, I wrote out a conversation between Sarah and her mentor, Carol. We explored James’ comment about obeying the royal law. It took me a couple thousand words over several days, about the same number of words in the first half of the letter of James. And you need the whole conversation to understand the point.

Last Sunday a friend asked how my class had gone. I spent a few minutes talking about the Sunday school class I had just taught. But I wondered why he was asking, since he hadn’t asked before. It took me two days to realize that he had been asking about the graduate course I had taught a couple days before.

These stories tell us that sometimes a point takes more than a few sentences to make. Sometimes a story takes pages. Or weeks. Or generations. Sometimes the meaning of a question takes days to understand.

We would never read Doris Goodwin’s massive and powerful biography of Lincoln and his cabinet and stop after every paragraph and say, “What’s the lesson I can take from this.”

And yet, we often read a few words or paragraphs from the Bible thinking we ought to be able to apply it to our lives that day. And wondering whether something is wrong with it or with ourselves if we can’t make that application.

Although Paul told his apprentice Timothy that all Scripture was profitable for one of several uses, he didn’t say that each sentence by itself would be life transforming. Or even day transforming.

Think of it this way. Every conversation with Nancy doesn’t give me something to do. But across the days and weeks and years, the cumulative conversations have shaped me and our relationship.

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About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

One thought on “something for today.

  1. You’re right, of course, about the bible part. But this got me thinking about one of the pitfalls of daily blogging.

    Jesus, with just a handful of words, crafted parables that have us pondering 2000 years later. Skilled writers can work similar magic, but not under the day-after-day time crunch.

    Sometimes there’s a reason to stretch the story with more words. Sometimes, there just isn’t time to figure out how to tell it with fewer words.

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