Yesterday I had an appointment at the Panera Bread on Jefferson St in Newport News. Because we live southwest of Richmond, and because I wasn't certain of the driving time, I left during the front-end of rush hour to give myself plenty of time. As I approached Williamsburg I realized that if I remained on I-64 that I'd be quite early (something par for the course for me, just ask Vickie), so I took a Williamsburg exit, deciding to slow the pace down by getting off the Interstate.
Now I knew that Jefferson St is an I-64 exit - and I had a picture in my mind that as long as I continued on a main road into Newport News that I'd crisscross Jefferson and find the Panera. I picked up Route 143 in Williamsburg and continued on it into Newport News. However - I didn't see Jefferson St.
I passed the Newport News airport and recalled seeing on Mapquest that the Panera was in proximity to the airport - but after driving a couple more miles there was still no Jefferson St. Shortly after the airport, I should mention, I saw signs with the name Jefferson in them, shopping centers, research buildings, and the like - but no Jefferson street.
Finally I decided that I'd better pull off Rt. 143 and look at the rather poor map I'd printed out - for I had a sense that I'd driven too far into Newport News. I pulled into a retail parking lot, could learn nothing from the map - it wasn't detailed enough - and thought about calling Vickie to Google the Panera address and also check a Google map - but I really didn't want to do that. After deciding to backtrack on Rt. 143 and to find a ramp to I-64 and then look for the Jefferson Exit, I looked up at a sign hanging from a traffic light, the sign read "Jefferson" - Rt. 143 is Jefferson St. - I had been on Jefferson St. the entire time I had been in Newport News - I was on the street I was looking for and didn't know it.
After retracing my route a mile or two I found the Panera with plenty of time to spare.
I wonder how many times I've been looking for something and have been in the place I've been looking for without knowing it? How many times have preconceived images blinded me to the fact that I already am where I am going?
Late yesterday a pastor friend from Cincinnati called me to catch-up. As he was sharing with me about his teaching in Leviticus I said, "You know David, a lot of pastors don't talk about the Bible. We talk about this program, or that book, or what this person is saying, but oftentimes we don't talk about the Bible. I wonder why that is?"
Don't get me wrong, I love to read and through reading my life has been enriched beyond measure and I have gained mentors who lived hundreds of years ago. But those mentors have tended to lead me to the Bible as the Living Word of God. As a pastor I've yearned to hear my people talk about the Scriptures they've been reading - as opposed to a steady diet of Christian fad material - or even (hypothetically) a steady diet of sound and meaty Christian material.
I think one of the reasons I loved my association with the Jesus People in California in the late 60's and the early Charismatic Movement was because people were excited about Jesus and excited about the Bible.
One day in 1968 I asked my friend David Hoyt in San Francisco why he decorated the pages of his Bible with artwork. He replied, "Well, the Bible is my home and people put art in their homes." That's been over 40 years ago and I still remember that.
I love my books - but I love my Bible more than all of my books. The fact is that no book is going to give me an answer that isn't better answered in the Bible; and no book can have its proper place with a proper perspective unless that place and perspective is the Bible. Sounds a bit narrow doesn't it? Nah - not really, not if you know the depth and width and height of the Scriptures, not if you've touched the texture and tasted the flavors of the Living Word - not if you've begun to plumb the deeps and adventure to the peaks.
My friend and former worship leader, Andy Shipp, used to say, "It's all in here. The answers are all in here. The more I read the Bible the more I see it." Now that's music to a pastor's ears.
So how many times have I been looking for something in this book or that book, or in this speaker or that one, or in this program or that...just fill in the blank...when if I would just center myself in the Scriptures and seek communion with my Father that a sustainable answer would be found as I come to see more of Jesus revealed in His Word and in my life?
How many times have I been on Jefferson St and didn't even know it?