As we look at the four window panes of Scripture (head, heart, soul, and story); we zoom in on each individually to listen for the uniqueness and necessity it contributes. Once we explore how head, heart, soul, and story have an important voice to add, then we can listen to the collaborative chorus, the bigger, whole picture. Starting with the head...our intellect. Each word of Scripture we read/hear is filtered through our experiences and awakens a response. Each word of Scripture enters in, might touch a nerve or cause a synapses to stir. Take for example one of my favorite passages of Scripture, Exodus 3:
Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
One of the blessings the window pane of head brings is the art of asking good question. In the above passage we might ask:
~ What did it mean to be a priest of Midian? Was that a different religion?
~ What helped Moses notice and name that the burning bush was 'holy ground'? Did it just come natural?
~ What did the voice of God sound like when God called Moses' name.
~ Did the names of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob mean anything to Moses (remember Moses was raised by the Pharaoh's daughter in the palace), so did he know his Jewish roots?
Questions are vital to Scripture taking on life. Questions are the breath of fresh air that move and make the tiny words on the Scripture page start to rattle and roam. Think of Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones...it is the words that awaken and bring forth life. Think of Genesis 1, creation, it is God's word that awaken and bring forth life. As Abraham Hershel said, "Words create worlds." That truth is one of the reasons why we are struggling so mightily in the world today. The words the different sides politically/racial/geographically/gender are offering are creating different, often irreconcilable, worlds. And not many people want to travel to someone else's world...when we can stay comfortable in the world of our own making.
The first step when staring at the window pane of head is to ask questions of the Scripture passage. Challenge yourself to keep on asking questions. Some of you may need a permission slip to ask questions of the Bible. You may have been raised in a tradition where the pastor from the pulpit created a world when he (it was almost always a he in this situation said). "The Bible said it, I heard it, and that settles it." No! No story works that way. These words are not formulaic. And besides, just hearing something doesn't lead us all to the same conclusion. I read/hear/encounter something and see (to continue to use the metaphor) through one window pane of that experience. But you, you read/hear/encounter something and see something different. I can look through the window right now and see the dragonfly buzzing around and banging into the glass. You might see the beautiful circular ripples of the pool. And still someone else notices the palms waving "Hi" from the neighbor's yard. Which is true? That's not a good question. All of it is true...necessary...needed. All of those insights and questions help to clarify, expand, and create a fuller picture of what is happening right outside.
Ask questions. Write down insights you have. Author David Lose calls this your "IQ"...insights and questions.
Take some time, re-read the above passage...write down some questions and insights. The insights might be personal. Maybe you have stood in a hot, humid desert...tasting the sand on the tip of your tongue...seen the waves of heat radiating off the sandy soil all around you as the sun blazed and baked your skin...and felt God's calling. That is an insight important for this passage. To stare through the head window pane is to let these words really settle in and ride the synapses of our mind. Let it transport and take you into the world these words are trying to create.
I pray as these words filter through your mind, you will sense more than a trace of God's grace.