Monday, January 2, 2012

The Land of Far Far Away

"seek to find acceptable words"
Ecclesiastes 12:9

I had a interesting lesson in contrast last week, on the value of up close, and far away.  My sister and her family were in town, so we all drove to Los Angeles to visit a museum ~ specifically, the museum and grounds of the La Brea Tar Pits.

My sister and her son - 60 adorable lbs of catch-me-if-you-can

I visited the La Brea Tar Pits many, many years ago, but it seemed new to me.  Lots to appreciate; not to mention seeing it through the eyes of my kids.  My Amazing Boy was fascinated by the tar itself, by the wonders of the earth itself, and this phenomenon.  My Awesome Girl, who loves science and biology, but hates the idea of animals suffering, allowed herself to appreciate the anatomy of the animals that have been uncovered, without dwelling on how they got there.

Amazing Boy.  He's real and the tar is real, but the mastodons have been added for effect

The interesting thing about the many, many bones that have been discovered at La Brea, is the condition they are in.  The tar actually strengthens and helps preserve the bones, meaning that delicate things, like seashells and bird bones, can be found here, when usually they are too fragile to last long enough to be discovered by scientists.

I stood there looking at this bone in amazement.  That, if you can't read the label, is a "small mouse toe bone".  Can you see that speck in the petri dish??  I am astounded at the ability of anyone to actually see that as they search through muck and mud and tar.  I know they are used to dealing with that situation ~ using small paintbrushes, and toothbrushes to carefully reveal what is hiding, but I think even if I saw that bone, I wouldn't recognize it as being valuable.  It takes experience, and careful study to find the treasures.  That, my friends, is the value of close up. 

Then, coincidentally, (or maybe not!) I sat down to read a couple chapters in my Bible.  I opened to the Book of Romans, picked up where I'd left off last, and settled in to read.  But all of a sudden I got an idea.  And it might sound odd to you, but it was something that was totally different for me.   You see, when I read the Bible, I read it with a pen in my hand.   Either I have a highlighter, or I have a pen and a pad.   I jot down or highlight, verses or phrases or words I want to hang on to.  Either they have some implication for my life at the moment, or I have the feeling they are going to, or I want to share them with someone. 

But that day, I had the idea of just reading.  Not writing, not highlighting, not focusing in on any one part of it.  Backing up, if you will, and just letting the overall flow of the text impact me.  I was set to read two chapters, but first I decided to back up a little, so as not to start in the middle of a point that Paul was making.  So I backed up one chapter, and read until I felt like stopping.  I read six chapters, total, which is actually a lot for the Book of Romans.  It is a deep, complex and rewarding book ~ one that I would normally study, rather than read.  But if Paul ~ if God ~ were writing me a letter, I would sit down and read the whole thing, right?  Even if it were long, I wouldn't stop and parse it until I'd read through the whole thing, and understood His overall message. 

It was a very fun and eye-opening read for me.  I loved the realization that close-up focus leads to treasures I might otherwise miss, but that a overall view will make sure I get the message He intended.  While I won't stop reading with a pen in my hand, there is a time and place for the far away view, too.

~ "Jesus replied, 'You are in error 
because you do not know the Scriptures 
or the power of God' " ~
Matthew 22:29

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