Plaster Dust

Have you ever worked at any length with plaster of Paris? We did a unit about molding and casting in my three dimensional design class my freshman year of college, which involved the use of quite a bit of plaster. I thoroughly enjoyed the plaster lathing and later, the casting process, but the one thing I did not entirely love about plaster is the way it sucks the moisture from human skin like some kind of alien species. My hands were a cracked ruin while I worked in plaster. But the final products of the labor were always gratifying.

Why in the world am I telling you this? All for the sake of what has probably already become a bloated metaphor, but if you've been reading my blog posts for any amount of time, you're likely used to that from me. Anyway, I must admit, I am in a spiritual state right now that is as dry as a box of powdered plaster--so spiritually dry that I fear my parched state could be leeching the life-giving moisture from anything that comes in contact with me. And how did I get this way? By a systematic neglect of Bible study.

When I say Bible study, I don't mean a neglect of going someplace were people meet and discuss homework passages from a LifeWay workbook. What I mean is disciplined, regular study of the scriptures for its own sake, not because somebody might notice I don't have my blanks filled in. I have lately only touched base with my Bible in passing glances, and it shows.

When I think about how neglectful I've been of study, I constantly remember a story I heard at a writer's conference a few years back. The speaker at the conference talked about the home churches meeting in rural China, where they may only have a single page of the Bible, a page that they pass from family to family, and when it's your family's turn to have the page, how everyone cherishes it, pores over it, and memorizes it, squeezing every ounce of wisdom they can from the words. We have enough Bibles around our house to distinguish between the "cheap paperbacks" that we don't even really worry about if our kids leave them somewhere, and the better, leather-bound versions we don't let them take places, mostly because we don't want to have to shell out the $70 to replace them. And yet, with a Bible within fifteen paces of any place I could be in my house, or if some bizarre set of circumstances emerged that every one of those Bibles simultaneously got left on a shelf outside a Sunday school classroom, within a ten minute drive to purchase a new one, I don't pick one up with regularity. It's worse than a shame. I am ashamed.

My solution to my neglect of reading has been to listen to an audio version of the "Bible in a year" that I can flip on when I get in my car in the morning. I'm surprised how well this has gone for me for the few days that I've been trying it, because I am not really an auditory learner. But still, even familiar passages are presenting new nuggets that I've somehow missed in many readings of the same text.

And so, it's my hope, just like the way plaster does when you add water, that the application of more scripture to my daily routine will create a reaction that warms. In this case, warms my spirit, my interactions with others, and stokes to flame a consuming hunger for the Word of God--something that has been absent from my life for longer than I care to admit. And just like that liquid plaster, made useful by the introduction of water, I pray that I will become more useful, more mold-able, and eventually spiritually solid. May my commitment to keeping scripture in my daily life take what could be just dry dust and make it something capable of comprising a masterpiece.


  1. This sounds a wonderful solution. You are probably not the only one who feels they aren't spending enough quality time in the word ...

  2. Amen. This was a great post... and more than a little convicting. Personally I have no problem reading my Bible every single day, but actually studying it, looking hard for wisdom and instruction, is another matter. Thanks for posting this.

  3. It’s always been a struggle for me, even since I was young. I go through these periods where I'm in it every day, but then go through these even longer periods where I only pick it up on Sundays and Wednesdays. Then I come back around and get disciplined for a while, then back again to not, which I've never understood, because unlike 40 minutes on an elliptical machine, no matter how painful His work in you can be at times, its always pleasurable to spend time with God. Just like the adage about children, no one ever looks back at their life and goes 'Gosh I wish I'd spent less time with God.'

    And here now I'm rambling, but I think a lot our collective attitude and struggle with faithfulness that we have here in America has a large part to do with our wealth as people. We try to stick with our daily duty because we know we need God, that 'man doth not live on bread alone but on every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God' (I memorized that one in KJ for some reason)but we don't really believe it very deep. Our grandparents or great grandparents did because they lived in a world where their basic needs being met weren't a given. They relied on God, it was a practice that carried through for all their lives, and their attitude showed it.

    I look back at the generations of my family that came before me and can see how each generation has become weaker and weaker (or at least less outspoken) in their faith, not because the previous generations failed to bring their children up in fear of the Lord, but the elements around us have changed. Mom and dad and Visa and the government provide now… sometimes gross excess… not the Lord. And it hardly matters how many times you say ‘the Lord provides’ because even in the church we don’t live like it.

  4. (con't) My great grandmother used her last coherent hours before death to call every singe family member who was lost and make sure she preached the gospel to them one last time, her son endured consistent abuse (by American standards) for his bold faith in his factory job, his son (my dad) all fo his life has read his Bible everyday either in the morning or at his lunch hour… or both… but he’s quieter about it. He’ll talk about the handiworks of God with strangers but outright sharing of the gospel I haven't personally seen in the secular setting As for me, I pretty much get by in life using scripture as my absolute yardstick to test everything against (note how this is different than using scripture as absolute daily sustenance) I was a Chrisitan Monday-Friday in the workplace, BUT, to be honest, they only way I've ever had the gospel pulled from my lips (aside from written argument), is when I've been asked about it point blank, and how often does that happen? So if that ever sloping trend continues to the next generation (my kids) where does that leave them? Maybe they'll retain scripture enough to squeak by in life and accept what scripture says as truth if I can show to them what God says about things (since they may not bother studying it on their own at all)? Will the secular trend of 'God is love and carries no other characteristics' take hold of them? Will their scripture be reduced to whatever electronic bites they get here and there? Will they be disappointed with God when he doesn’t operate with the same instant gratification as the interenet and texting provide? Because that terrifies me.

    Wow. I totally got off here. You must have hit a nerve dear Becky because I am totally preaching to myself. :) Anyway, my point somewhere back there is that we are ultimately self reliant, even when we feel 'poor'. Something you and I know something about. But we're NOT poor, even when we're broke. We're always finding easy, basically painless ways to obtain what we want (and need), contrary to those who came before us and had to sweat and bleed for daily bread. Where is there a need for manna in that? There isn't. Not from our sinful standpoint, so in our logical, fleshly power it is impossible to stick with Biblical sustenance, and relational sustenance with an unseen God, because to the flesh it is senseless. And I think that’s why we fail. We’re trying to accomplish faithfulness to God in our own power because we 'ought'. It's duty, like 45 minutes of aerobic activity. We fail to begin it in a state of complete surrender to God, because 97% of the time we flat out don't believe we are coming to Him poor, wretched, naked and blind, but in truth, the American church as a whole is exactly that. We apply ourselves to our duty under our own (albeit well-meaning) power and it fails. Our would-be fire doesn’t burn because the kindling is soaked with comfort and ease. Thankfully God has been known to set even wet rocks aflame.

    And thankfully you are my friend and not going to block me from your blog for beign ridiculously ridiculous in my rambling. I told myself I’d write you today, I just didn’t know this would be it 


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