I started the practice of jogging last week. After doing two-a-day miles for a total of an hour, I took a break. Since the heatstrokewave hit this week rather coincided with weak knees and weak wills. But, fortunately, I have this on archive:
About taking up the rhythms of jogging and a relationship between that and reading and living out (or obeying) the Bible, Eugene Peterson writes:
Running developed from a physical act to a ritual that gathered meditation, reflection, and prayer into the running. By this time I was subscribing to three running magazines and regularly getting books from the library on runners and running. I never tired of reading about running… How much is there to write about running? There aren’t an infinite number of ways you can go about it – mostly it is just putting one foot before the other. None of the writing, with few exceptions, was written very well. But it didn’t matter that I had read nearly the same thing twenty times before; it didn’t matter if the prose was patched together with cliches; I was a runner and I read it all.
And then I pulled a muscle and couldn’t run for a couple of months as I waited for my thigh to heal. It took me about two weeks to notice that since the injury I hadn’t picked up a running book or opened a running magazine… I wasn’t reading because I wasn’t running. The moment I began running again I started reading again.
That is when I caught the significance of the modifier “spiritual” in “spiritual reading.” It meant participatory reading. It meant that I read every word on the page as an extension or deepening or correction or affirmation of something that I was a part of. I was reading about running not primarily to find out something, not to learn something, but for companionship and of the experience of running… [I]f I wasn’t running, there was nothing to deepen.
The parallel with reading Scripture seems to me almost exact: if I am not participating in the reality – the God reality, the creation/salvation/holiness reality – revealed in the Bible, not involved in the obedience [John] Calvin wrote of, I am probably not going to be much interested in reading about it – at least not for too long.
Calvin taught that – as many theologians and preachers from the beginnings of the biblical canon taught – that in order to understand the Bible, you have to live it, obey it.
Staying true to the idea that the Bible is God’s revelation of his story to us and that we enter into his story – not the other way around – Peterson tells a story of a couple that he pastored that further illustrates the point.
Anthony Plakados was a thirty-five-year-old truck driver in my congregation. Anthony grew up in Greek home, conventionally Catholic, but none of it rubbed off. He left school after the eighth grade. He told me that he had never read a book. And then he became a Christian, got himself an old King James Bible with small print, and read it three times in that first year of his conversion. Anthony was off and running. Mary, his wife, was interested but also a bit bewildered by all this and asked a lot of questions. Mary had grown up a proper Presbyterian, gone to Sunday School all her growing up years, and was used to a relition of definitions and explanations. When Mary’s questions got too difficult for Anthony, he would invite me to their trailer-house home, papered with Elvis Presley posters, to help him out. One evening the subject was the parables – Mary wasn’t getting it. I was trying to tell her how to read them, how to make sense out of them. I wasn’t getting on very well, and Anthony interrupted, “Mary, you got to live ’em, then you’ll understand ’em; you can’t figger ’em out from the outside, you got to git inside ’em – or let them git inside you.”
And Anthony hadn’t read so much as a word of John Calvin.
From Eat This Book.