Bible Verse: “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11, ESV
Scripture Reading: Matthew 14:22-33
The founder of the Jesuits, Ignatius of Loyola, invites us to exercise our imagination when we read narratives from the Gospels. He suggests reading a Scripture passage two or three times so that the story becomes familiar to us, and then closing our eyes to visualize the setting.
Ignatius then invites us to use our five senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste to imagine ourselves in the story and even to act out the role of one of the characters.
Let’s walk through an example of reading the Bible in this way: the story where Jesus walks on water in Matthew 14:22 – 33. You might begin by imagining the setting. It’s two in the morning and you are in a boat on a lake with the disciples when a furious storm breaks out.
What do you hear? What do the waves look like? What is the feeling in your stomach as you bob perilously up and down? How does the wind feel in your face?
In the distance, you see what appears to be a ghost gliding on the water toward you. How do you feel? How are the others in the boat reacting?
The ghostly apparition gliding toward you on the water speaks in a familiar voice saying, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
What emotions do these words stir inside you?
You wonder … is it the Lord? “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” Jesus says. You climb out of the boat and begin to walk on the water toward Jesus.
What is it like to walk on water? How does the churning water feel under your feet? What does Jesus’ face look like? What is his expression as he looks at you?
Now, you turn your head and focus on the wind and the waves — and you start to sink. How cold is the water? What emotions are you experiencing now?
You cry out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus catches you with his hand. How does his hand feel as it grasps your arm? What is going through your heart? What do you want to say to Jesus now?
Imagining a scene in Scripture helps us become part of the story and allows the story to become part of us.