The 1989 film The Dead Poet’s Society tells the story of an all-boy’s boarding school in New England whose literature teacher, Mr. Keating (played by the late Robin Williams) challenges his students to engage with their classwork on a deeper level. It was a culture and time where studying the mechanics of meter and rhyme were more important than wrestling with one’s emotional response to the verse.

In the film Mr. Keating recalls to a small group of students his own experience as a young man at the same school. A group of young men would gather together in a cave, and drink deeply from the richness of experience and thought found in their literature textbooks.

One of the current students remarks, “So you sat around in a cave reading poems?”

To which Mr. Keating replies, “We didn’t just ‘read poems’. We let them drip off our tongues like honey.”

If such inspiration can be gained from Thoreau, Walden and Emerson, what sort of inspiration could be gained from reading the Bible in such a way? If poets can inspire us, why not prophets?

There is a place for deeper, comparative, analytical study. Certainly, when forming doctrines or studying theology we should be as scholastically responsible as possible. But there is also a place for letting the Spirit of God simply speak to us through His Word.

I found myself in a similar situation when I attended Seminary as a young adult. Theology, hermeneutics, exegesis…these things were and are important. But I came to the realization that I was so invested in analyzing Scripture that I had forgotten how to let it speak to my heart. So, in no small way inspired by the aforementioned film, a small group of three friends set out late one night into the woods armed with flashlights and Bibles. We didn’t just read verses. We let them drip off our tongues like honey.

It revived our souls.

Powerful, beautiful, faithful

Fall Week of Worship just ended at Dakota Adventist Academy. One of those same three friends from Seminary (Pastor Jonathan Burnett of the North Shore Adventist Church in Chicago) joined us and shared from Scripture and from his heart about some broken people who found that God is more beautiful and faithful to us than we deserve or can imagine. It was powerful. But Pastor Jon and I would both testify that the most powerful thing that happened last week was not his preaching. It was when a group of a dozen students met with us after worship Friday evening to read the Bible together.

We were reminded that God’s word is powerful. We were reminded that the God behind the words is more beautiful and faithful than we imagine. We were reminded that even though the glow of our spiritual high will fade, and we will once again find ourselves in the valley, He will finish the work He began in us. He is good!

I personally was reminded of what it looks like to grab ahold of the promises of God with the faith of a child. To actually believe what He says. To allow it not only into my mind, but into my heart. I was reminded that there is a deeper experience of joy and worship that comes as a response to what God has done in my heart. I was reminded that God’s word, and God himself, are just better. Better than I, even as a believer, often give Him credit for.

Have you lost your first love? Can you recall a time when you read Scripture and let it drip off your tongue like honey? Have you recently connected with the heart of God, or have you relegated Him to the lower levels of religion?

No matter how you answer these questions, I suggest you find a few friends, choose a night, and bring your flashlights and Bibles.

Pastor Rob Carlson is DAA’s chaplain and upper grades’ Bible teacher.