How to “EAT THIS BOOK”

“He said to me, O mortal, eat what is offered to you; eat this scroll, and go, speak to house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. He said to me, Mortal, eat this scroll that I give to you and fill your stomach with it. Then I ate it; and in my mouth it was as sweet as honey.”

Ezekiel 3:1-3 is always a hard one to explain to children who have been told most of their lives to keep things out of their mouths.

“If you are going to pick your nose, please don’t eat it.”

“No. You cannot eat the candy you found in the sofa.”

“The gum underneath the table is definitely off limits.”

However, in this passage God is clear, he want Ezekiel to eat the word of God. God wants Ezekiel to place that dry, inky word in his mouth and chew. And perhaps chew some more. God wants Ezekiel to swallow those words and let the process of all that he has eaten become part of his very being. Eugene Peterson translates this command as “Eat this book.”[1]

In Romans 12:2 Paul gives his readers a leg up on how the transformation into Christ likeness happens. We are “transformed by the renewing of our minds.” One way mind transformation happens is when we “Eat this book,” when the words of Scripture become part of our very being.

Often when we expose our children to Scripture we get surface level understanding, but that isn’t all they are capable of. If we want to go deeper with them; we have to speak the language they know best—the language of imagination.

C.S. Lewis said that, “Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.” [2]

Ignatian meditation is one way to chew and swallow the word of God. It becomes part of our being, it transforms our minds. The practice is quite simple.

  1. Choose a passage of Scripture from one of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. A passage that has some action is particularly good. Also choose something short. If you are following along in Good Dirt, you can use the passage from that day. John 6:1-14 is one of my favorites with children.
  2. Pray a short prayer inviting the Holy Spirit to speak through the passage into your hearts. Then read the passage through once.
  3. Remind everyone that they have five senses. Touch, Taste, Sight, Smell, and Hearing. It is with these senses that we experience the world. Invite everyone to close their eyes and enter into the passage using their five senses just as if they were actually there. Read the passage again.
  4. Ask the questions: What did you see? What did you hear? What did you smell? What did you taste? What did you feel? Some responses to these questions might be… I heard a lot of people talking. I saw Jesus. I smelled fish. I touched the bread. I felt hungry. Give everyone a chance to share their experience.
  5. Read the passage through one more time. Do 2 things this time. Ask, who are you most like in the story? And ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you. When you finish share your responses. (Remember that nothing you ever hear from the Spirit will go against the character of God found in 1 Cor. 13: 4-8, and further the words of the Spirit produce the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self control.[3])

Once when I was explaining to a third grader why chewing the end off of his pencil and swallowing it was not really a great health choice I said, “It’s not that I don’t want you to eat. I just want you to eat things that are good for you.”

So how about it? Grab a kid or two and give it try. Let us know how it goes.


[1] The translation I’m referring to is the Message.

[2] C.S. Lewis, Selected Literary Essays: “Bluespels and Flanlansferes: A Semantic Nightmare,” Cambridge UP, 1969, p. 265.

[3] Galatians 5:22-23

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