Last month, inspired by a woman at a conference whose phone told her where we could get a hotdog, I decided to replace my dinosaur of a cellphone.
My daughters were delighted. They soon had me instagramming photos of their dogs, whom they rarely get to see, being off at college and internships much of the year. Before long, I was posting all the time: my garden’s amazing abundance this summer, pies about to go in the oven, snakes and spotted fawns and wildflowers I see on my runs.
Then, a visiting former student and I entered into a psalm-memorizing pact, and she downloaded a Bible app onto my phone that she said would help me, and soon I was listening to scripture as I ran, the voice of God booming forth from the net pouch I wear on my stomach—I hate earphones—to the astonishment of cattle, dogs, horses, and the occasional human passersby.
Almost immediately, I ditched the psalms for the gospels and soon settled on John—now esoteric, now fatherly—as my favorite voice. On one long run, I listened to everything we have of John’s writing. His three odd little letters I’d never paid much attention to before (one addressed to a woman, who knew?!) His gospel, with its baffling beginning:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (Genesis 1.1-3 ESV)
And Revelation, for me always an unsettling narrative, in which heaven seems such a strange and off-putting place.
Listening to John’s whole opus read aloud in one go was transformative for me. His wise, kind voice pulled everything together in a new way: the creation, the fall, Jesus’ life on Earth, the struggles and successes and sheer realness of the early church—so recognizably the church of today—and the resolution of everything in the end.
After my run, I stood sweating in my driveway and listened to the beginning of Genesis and had new thoughts about it all. The creation was a work of words:
“And God said . . . And God said . . . And God said . . . And God said . . . And God said . . . And God said . . . Then God said . . .” (Genesis 1.3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 26 ESV).
God spoke everything into being. And speaking being a communal act, involving a speaker and a listener, God would have been speaking to someone. So, not only the Spirit hovering over the waters but the Son—or, as John calls him, “the Word”—was present. And, if John is right that the world was created through Jesus, a narrative of the conversation preceding the creation might have had Jesus speaking with his Father, making suggestions, perhaps coming up with the whole idea.
“Hey, Dad, let’s make a world swarming with swarms of creatures—live creatures like us. And in it, a beautiful garden full of people just like us that we can love, and they can love us back, just as you love me and I love you.”
And the Father, besotted with love for his Son and surely impressed by his good ideas, spoke, the very words from his mouth giving flesh and movement and life to the words of the Son.
I didn’t let myself think about what happened afterwards—when, as John tells it, Jesus “came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1.12 ESV). It was too horrifying. Instead, I stood there in the driveway, teary-eyed about that unwritten conversation into we’ve been invited, not only as people made in God’s image but, the more so, as Word-mongers—God-lovers in the business of inviting still others into the same conversation.
What a responsibility.
What a delight!
11 Replies to “And God Said . . .”
What a great post. What struck me was the imagined conversation between Jesus and God and the Holy Spirit at creation coupled with not wanting to think what happened later when His own rejected Him. Made me pause.
Yes. It made me pause too. The old 1984 NIV, which I read when I first became a believer, translated Genesis 6.6 as “The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.” That depiction of God–to me so evocative of a broken-hearted parent–has always moved me.
Thanks so much for sharing. I never considered listening to the Bible while I run.
I’m new to iphones also. Is there more than one Bible app? Thanks.
There are lots, from what I understand, but the one my student put on my phone was the YouVersion that Shellie references in the next comment. It was the first one that came up in the Apps Store, when I entered “Bible.” I think they’re arranged by popularity. It can do all kinds of stuff I don’t know how to do yet, like highlight and bookmark and look up commentary, I think, but that’s all too complicated for me when I’m running. I just turn it on and off.
Great post, Patty! I love using my YouVersion Bible app and listening to the Word while I do all sorts of things. I’ve got my iphone bluetoothed with my car– which means on long drives, I can hear it read to me over the car speakers. THAT was an awesome find. 🙂 My app has different readers on the different translations. I’ve enjoyed hearing the different voices, inflections, as well. 🙂
I need to figure out how to do that. (I’m still too technologically delayed to really understand your cellphonese, but I vaguely remember that some sort of Bluetooth thing came with my phone, so I guess I can look into that. Oy!)
Lovely, simply lovely. I read the whole thing. Thank you.
You’re so welcome!
So glad you upgraded your technology. We all would’ve missed a blessing here, especially the awesome photos! Great post, Patty!
I’m struck by your repetition of “God said.” It gives me a whole new appreciation for our world as the incarnation of speech!
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