So, we've taken to reading a daily devotional, courtesy of a book from my sister-in-law.
Somewhere, deep inside me, a snarky little cynic is mocking the routine with derisive laughter, but I'm game for the experiment. My thought is it can't hurt. What's the worst that can happen? Communication and conversation? Even if the conversation inspired by the devotionals focuses only on how ridiculously pollyannaish they are, or how ill-fitting they are to our lives, then they've still achieved their goal of encouraging us to communicate.
For instance, one recent devotional talked about turning off the television and getting involved with our children's lives. I estimate My Lovely Wife and I watch approximately one hour of television a day, and many times we aren't even paying attention to it. On the other hand, this week alone we have marching band practice for Our Daughter, dinner with the grandparents, hockey practice for the boys, 10th grade check-in and fee payment for Our Daughter, back-to-school nights at the high school and elementary school, one dentist appointment, three orthodontist appointments, tailgating on Friday before the marching band's performance at the high school football game, the football game itself, and hanging out with the kids at Sonic after the game. And because my brain is like a sieve, I'm probably forgetting half a dozen other things. All this happens around work, which we're always told is less important than family, but you can't afford any of the things you do with the kids unless you make sure your at-work productivity doesn't suffer.
In other words, the person who wrote the devotional chastising us for watching television instead of interacting with our kids can cram that particular life lesson where the sun don't shine. Maybe that's a little hostile. Don't worry. I'm sure the book has a devotional about anger management.
The funniest thing to me is the bit of scripture leading off each devotional. For some reason the writers of the book really seem to put a whole lot of stock in Ephesians. All I've ever known about the book of Ephesians is that Paul, for someone who lived in the first century AD, had pretty steady access to papyrus and ink. I can't help thinking the Ephesians -- or the Phillipians, or the Galatians, or the Corinthians, or the Romans, or anyone else Paul took a fancy to sending a letter to -- were happy to get his letter but always a little annoyed at being obligated to write back.
"Look! Another letter from Paul."
"But we just answered his last one!"
I'm always dubious whether biblical passages used to support a point are applicable if you go back to the Bible and learn for yourself the true context of the passage. Maybe we're not getting the full meaning of the snippet we're being handed.
For instance, here's a brief line from Luke 12:1 -- "Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees..." If I ignore the fact the entire passage from which I lifted this quote is meant to serve as a warning against hypocrisy, I could end up writing an entire devotional about the soul-rotting dangers of buying matzoh and challah from Jewish religious leaders. In fact, that sounds like a fun false teaching to mess around with next April Fool's Day.
Or how about this entire verse from Hosea 3:1 -- "The Lord said to me again, 'Go, love a woman who has a lover and is an adulteress, just as the Lord loves the people of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.'"
That one really has me scratching my head, and I doubt even the devotional book writers could manage to work that into any kind of contemporary context. For starters, the whole loving an adulteress thing would never go over well with my mother, and especially with My Lovely Wife. It's a nice offer, but I'll pass.
And what does the Lord have against raisin cakes? I understand the whole "other gods" reference but raisin cakes? I've never cared for raisins in my baked goods and cereal, so I can sympathize, but lumping somebody who occasionally enjoys a nice Irish soda bread with people who've run off and sacrificed lambs to a statue of a golden cow seems a bit extreme.
Actually, we have found a couple of the devotionals from the book to be slightly more relevant to our lives than raisin cakes and yeast. And reading together at night, if even for a few minutes, is proving to be a relaxing experiment I wouldn't mind continuing. Maybe I should write my own book of daily devotions. There must be plenty more inspirational baking references in the Bible...
© 2012 Mark Feggeler