I have a devotion up today at Proverbs 31 about being content. This devotion is a very personal one, and I have been so pleased to see that women are reading it and being ministered to by it. I have already received several emails from women who said they needed to hear this-- some of whom are struggling with some pretty serious marriage issues. I have been there, my friends! And I have to say that God has brought me to a place of real contentment-- contentment that is based on honoring God with my choices and holding my decisions and actions up to His approval and no one else's. It has been a looooong journey.
Can I get an amen from someone else out there who has been on this same journey??
I do want to address that I used a Message translation of the Bible for this particular devotion. Why? Because it ministered to me in a personal way. And because it best encapsulated what God has taught me. I love, love, love what this verse has to say-- in The Message version. And of course, there are some folks who think that The Message is wrong and bad and lots of other things. So, I wrote this response to one of the well-intentioned ladies who emailed me, and then decided that the best thing I could do is to put it up on my blog. This is so that if I get any similar emails I can just shoot them an email and say, "Read my blog post on this subject."
For a busy mom of six, it is all about saving time, folks.
One thing I will add is, why is it that we can get 1000 compliments and hardly hear them, but one criticism can completely throw you off your game and have you doubting everything you have ever said, done or written?? Maybe it's just me, but I suspect it's not.
Ok, here's my response:
I just wanted to reply to your concerns about my devotion. I totally get what you are saying about the Message-- I myself read it and compare it to the NIV often when I have a question. If I plan to use a Message version for a devotion, I always look up what the NIV says first. In this text, it lines up with the theme of that passage on marriage and holds up in keeping with the Truth of Scripture. The Truth is, God does command us to be content with where He has us, and to respect His sovereignty in our place in life-- no matter what our circumstances are.
I used to not read the Message at all, until I read several passages quoted in other places that really hit me where I was at. After this happened to me several times, I did some research on Eugene Peterson and what his goal was in creating The Message. Peterson's passion was for making the Bible more readable for a generation that-- like it or not-- is slipping away from God. And so, since I want to reach those who are far from Him most of all, I started reading this translation and at times using it in my writing-- but NIV is still my translation of choice.
Here is an explanation from Peterson himself:
I take my critics seriously, listen to them, often learn from them. But when people don’t think I should be doing this kind of thing at all, or think that I am doing it badly, I have to more or less "pray myself" out of their disapproval. This is what I have been called to do, a gospel ministry to which I have been called and ordained by my denomination and that has been tested and validated by many godly men and women in Christ’s church. I am doing it as prayerfully and accurately as I am able. Some of the skeptics, at least, don’t understand that The Message is continuous with my pastoral vocation - all my life I have been trying to get men and women to hear, really hear, the "wonders of God...in their own tongues."
Ever since the day of Pentecost, the Spirit has used men and women to translate, in various styles of translation ranging from literal to paraphrasing, to keep this Word of God accessible in the mother tongue and culture in which people find themselves. The kind of paraphrasing translation that I have done is nothing novel - it has been done many times, sometimes with appreciation, but also, interestingly, often with disapproval. The Message was not my idea and I have never felt that it was my work - I was asked to do it; I have worked out of obedience. And as I have done the work, I have been surrounded, counseled, and in a sense "guarded" by learned and devout men and women.
My point to you, I guess, is to take the Truths contained in today's devotion and hold them up to the light of the Bible's teaching. Is what I wrote in keeping with what God has commanded us? Am I encouraging women to chase the things of this world, or find the place God has for them? In the end, that is what I hoped to do with this devotion-- and judging from the other responses I have gotten, it has really resonated with some very frustrated women. That is what I strive to do every time I write a devotion. I in no way want to defame or defraud God's people and certainly not His Word--