I have spent hours today, actual hours, filling up a a huge barrel, an enormous vat, with words. Lots and lots of words. I've generated a vast vat of verbiage. The opposite of writer's block.
Again, how shall I put this?
I've created a digital version of talking for hours without saying anything. Anybody interested in a vat full of unusable verbiage?
To be fair, a bit of what I've written makes some sense. But those bits aren't much good if the sentences surrounding don't make sense. Which they don't. Maybe eventually I'll be able to salvage something. Not today, though.
I'm not offering this as a request that you commiserate, though I imagine some of you do. Partly I'm explaining why today's devotional is arriving when it is, and partly I seem to be unable to stop typing ...
On the upside, this gives us the opportunity to return to 2 Corinthians 4, which I submitted for your consideration yesterday.
Today I'm providing that text, at the very bottom of this note, along with parts of chapters three and five. You'll see that I've given you something of a puzzle, or an editing project, or an exercise in practical biblical interpretation.
(As I do a quick proofread and see what I did to the text below, I realize that I've created something much more involved than "something of a puzzle.", Doing what I suggest is a big job, and it will take far more time than anyone is going to want to spend on it. Thing is, it's supposed to be interesting, engaging, even fun. But not everyone will experience it that way. So take the cautions below seriously)
Only do what's helpful, interesting, etc. Try to step away from it before it becomes tiresome; come back to it if you want to ...
Here's what you'll see: I've removed all of the paragraph breaks, and much of the punctuation. This creates the challenge of inserting punctuation and paragraph breaks so that the passage as a whole makes sense to you. Even if you don't know what Paul is talking about in some of the sections, see if you can set even those portions of the letter apart from the others in a way that helps make sense of the passage's structure.
Again, only do this if it sounds like fun.
If this "exercise" sounds miserable to you, skip it. Read the passage in your bible, then pray for yourself, for the church, and for our world.
If this sounds like it'll be too hard, just do what seems interesting.
As always, ask the Holy Spirit to help you hear, to see, to discern how to apply something of what you read to your life, to how you spend your time and energy, today.
pray for yourself. For your loved ones. For our community. For the millions who are not only inconvenienced but incapacitated by the coronavirus, the quarantine, and by the still unfolding consequences. For our country and our world. For healing. For civility. For a shared sense of belonging and purpose.
The grace and peace of Jesus be with you.
2 Corinthians 3:17-5:7
Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God and even if our gospel is veiled it is veiled to those who are perishing in their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God for we do not proclaim ourselves we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake for it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ but we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way but not crushed perplexed but not driven to despair persecuted but not forsaken struck down but not destroyed always carrying in the body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies for while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us but life in you. But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—“I believed, and so I spoke” —we also believe, and so we speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will bring us with you into his presence. Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace as it extends to more and more people may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God so we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away our inner nature is being renewed day by day for this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal for we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens for in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling— if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked for while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee so we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight.
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