Recently, Gary and I visited a friend at his family’s cucumber farm in Puyallup, Washington. After walking through the farmstead filled with supplies for canning and seeing boxes of harvested cucumbers, we enjoyed the privilege of each making a jar of pickles.
We added several ingredients layer by layer into a large mason jar: grape leaf, dill, onion, garlic, spices, cucumbers, red peppers, jalapeños, chili peppers, vinegar and water. The cucumbers marinate in a brine mixture which preserves their freshness while deepening their flavor. After vigorously shaking the sealed jar, the cucumbers soak in the savory mixture for a month. The jar must be turned weekly so the spices don’t settle in one place, but flavor all the cucumbers. When the process is complete, we get a delicious jar of pickles to eat.
Just as the cucumbers soak in an array of vegetables and spices to be transformed into a pickle, we can soak in God’s Word to become transformed human vessels offering spicy interactions with those around us.
I wonder if I’m becoming a pickle? Do I soak in the brine of God’s Word? Do you? Am I preserved by the Scriptures? Do I offer deep flavor to those around me after soaking in Bible passages? Am I turning my jar weekly to make sure all areas of my life are influenced by God’s Word?
What does soaking in Scripture look like?
Have you ever read a Bible passage in the morning and by lunchtime you can’t remember what you read? At times, we might read God’s Word more like the newspaper or a recipe? Sometimes we read the Bible out of habit with little effect upon our being. Often, we approach Scripture for information. We study it, read commentaries on it, and dissect it; but do we really meditate or marinate in the Bible? God exhorts Joshua in Joshua 1:8: “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
While there is a time for Bible study and scholarship, there is also a time to linger with the Bible. Reading God’s Word reflectively draws the mind and the heart together.
What would it look like to mull over Scripture; to ruminate on a single verse or even a short passage? When is the last time you wondered about God’s Word and its impact in your life?
As we meditate on passages from the Bible, our life is formed by God’s Word. In Psalm 119, the writer reminds the reader to meditate on God’s precepts, statutes, and decrees seven times. To God, meditating on His Word is imperative to a healthy soul.
In Colorado, we are closer to the sun and the air is dry. So, at times I like to turn my face toward the sun and just let the sunshine soak into my skin. Or, maybe you’ve watched rain slowly drip into the earth, soaking into the ground?
At Glenwood Springs, Colorado there are natural hot springs. Visitors arrive to this destination to soak. They would never dream of just dipping their toe into the water and leaving, they go to the Springs to soak, to ease their entire body into the hot water so the warmth completely surrounds them.
Likewise, soaking in Scripture is more than just dipping your toe into God’s Word, it is sinking in and letting Scripture surround you and absorb into your very being, your soul, just like a cucumber in the brine. The purpose is deep communion with Jesus.
Here are three ways to soak in Scripture and experience deep immersion with the Bible.
1 – Soak in Scripture by reading the same passage more than once. First read it slowly, listening to God’s Word. Then, as you read it a second time, reflect, listening for a word or phrase that sticks out to you. Sit with that word or phrase for a moment. Read the same passage a third time receiving from God. Wonder and pray about how that word or phrase connects deeply with your soul. Read it one last time, listening again and responding. Thank God for His presence and what He has shown you. Enjoy being in the presence of God.
2 – Soak by allowing your five senses to help you enter into the Scripture passage. As you read – notice what you hear and see in the scenario. Read it again, asking, what can you touch, taste and smell? Read it again, listening to the voices and noticing the people. Let God’s Word come alive by using your God given senses.
3 – Lastly, soak in God’s Word by imagining yourself in the scene. As you read it, ask who would you be? Why are you there? Read it through, imagining yourself as the different people in the passage. What is Jesus speaking to you? Read it wondering how God reveals Himself to you as well as what He reveals about yourself and creation through the text?
The next time you open your Bible, soak in the Scriptures. By the power of the Holy Spirit, use your God-given imagination to allow His Word to come alive. Notice what stands out to you. Talk to God about it. Receive from Him.
You can soak by yourself, with your kids, friends, spouse, small group, and even your church community. Linger with God, soak in His Word and enjoy deeper communion with Him.
It takes time for a cucumber soaking in brine and spices to become a pickle. In the same way, as we soak in Scripture, God transforms and preserves us, adding flavor to our lives, and bringing depth to our journey with Him.
Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.
For I delight in your commands because I love them. I reach out for your commands, which I love, that I may meditate on your decrees.
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers..
Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.
Alice Fryling. The Art of Spiritual Listening: Responding to God’s Voice Amid the Noise of Life Colorado Springs, CO. 2003.
Jan Johnson. Meeting God in Scripture. Downer’s Grove, IL. 2016.