Wednesday, January 23, 2008
The Old Testament made new again! (at least to me)
I never would have guessed the enjoyment and relevance I'm finding in the Old Testament! Before I started teaching seminary a few weeks ago, deep down I think I believed that people who would say that the Old Testament still applies to our lives were having to stretch the truth just a bit--like those CES types that have to say that because it's their job. You know how it is, you politely agree but inside you're kind of rolling your eyes. Boy am I glad to say I have been pleasantly surprised by how wrong I was. It would take too much time to blog all of the the treasures I'm finding in what's suddenly becoming a very new and fresh Old Testament-at least to me. And it's really quite a joy to share in this experience with my ward seminary class, despite the fact that it does wear on me to constantly be waking up so early and always in "crunch-time" mode to be prepared for a great class. It's still a joy because its effects are longer lasting and more rewarding.
My first thought when I found out I would be teaching the Old Testament in seminary was "oh great" in a sarcastic kind of way. My experience with the book has not been plentiful, and it also has not been memorable. I never took an Old Testament class at BYU, and I certainly don't remember anything from my high school seminary years. I think we went through 3 or 4 teachers, and I can only remember the name of one of them. So it's exciting to think that I can help give the kids an experience that I never had. And when I read the Old Testament on my mission, I was mostly looking for "one-liners" here and there (or famous scriptures) that I felt gave me instruction of how to better follow the Lord, praise the Lord, and live closer to him. I certainly didn't see how everything fit together. I knew how much the restoration scriptures add to our understanding of the Old Testament--but somehow those pages still stayed a little bit newer than all the other pages in my quadruple combination.
Now I'm being forced to really study it inside and out. In a selfish kind of way, I'm glad because my understanding is deepening. After all, the blessings promised in D&C 88:78 were directed towards the TEACHER. "Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend YOU, that YOU may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for YOU to understand." I think that's a good kind of selfishness! Look at what I get out of it if I simply "teach diligently"! I can sure use a bit more grace and "more perfect" instruction. Thanks also to the seminary and institute manuals that help explain things to me that I otherwise wouldn't have recognized by simply reading on my own. Now I get to better explain things to my students and show them how timeless some of these lessons are, and how the experiences of the people that lived so long ago still apply to our lives here and now. They're fewer and farther in between than in the New Testament and the Restoration scriptures, but they're there! And I also get to enjoy some really weird eyebrow raising stories mixed in. What more could I ask for?
I enjoy finding the humor and interesting ironies as well as the spiritual enrichment--it makes it more "real" to me-just like life itself. I don't know it as well as I know my other scriptures, but it's becoming a lot more familiar. And somehow it's like the Old Testament is becoming new all over again.