- Margaret Feinberg talks about her experiences in writing her newest release, Scouting the Divine. Feinberg spent time with shepherds, a beekeeper, a farmer and a vintner in order to get up close and personal with some of the Bible's most powerful imagery.
- What inspired you to pursue the travels you share in Scouting the Divine?
- “All too often, when I open the Bible, I feel a sense of disconnect. The stories were written thousands of years ago in a distant culture. In addition, the Bible is written in a primarily agrarian society and I live in a modern urban/suburban world. While I cannot go back in time and experience ancient culture, I can do something about learning more about the agrarian world in which the Bible is written. For Scouting the Divine, I decided to travel to Oregon to spend time with a shepherd, Nebraska to talk to a famer, Colorado to learn from a beekeeper, and Napa Valley to hang out with a vintner. With each individual, I asked, 'How do you read this, not a theologian, but in light of what you do everyday?' Their responses change the way I read the Bible.”
How did those experiences change your view of Scripture?
- “Throughout the journey, I began seeing familiar passages of scripture in a new light. John 10 suggests that God is like a shepherd and we’re like sheep. Just as shepherd calls out to His sheep and they hear his voice, so too, God calls out to us and we are to hear his voice and respond. It’s one thing to read that passage, but it’s another to stand in a field and watch an entire flock bolt toward their shepherd with only three spoken words, 'Sheep, Sheep, Sheep.' Many people wonder, 'How do I know if it’s God’s voice?' What they don’t realize is that like sheep, we’re wired to respond to the voice of God in our lives. Yes, we can make choices that impede our ability to hear from God. We can choose to run to the far end of the field and stick our neck through the fence, but at the end of the day, if we are trying to hear God’s voice then like a good shepherd, God will make sure we understand. We were created to know Him!”
What was your most memorable experience?
- “On one of the farms I visited, I noticed a handful of geese running around. My host explained they were looking for their eggs. I asked why. The woman—who had been nothing but loving and kind to her animals—explained the that she she had thrown them in the creek. I was mortified. Why had she done something so cruel? She explained that the eggs had never been fertilized since there weren’t any male geese. In essence, they were dead. She threw them into the creek so that the geese would stop sitting on dead eggs all day and get back to the life they were designed to live. When she explained this, I saw the spiritual parallel. I couldn’t help but wonder how many dead eggs I had been sitting on in my own life. How many times had God echoed to me, 'It’s time to move on and return to the life you were designed to live?'”
Is there a danger of a person being too disconnected from the stories of the Bible? Reading the Word rather than experiencing it?
- “In my own life, I know I can sometimes fall into the habit of reading the Bible like a textbook or history book or a rather than a living, breathing, vibrant encounter with God. I can read the Bible as stories—and though I may never say it outloud—they sometimes seem so far out they border on fictional. Yet the Bible is true—it’s filled with kings and queens and princes and paupers and poets and pilgrims who really lived. They wrestled bears, stood face to face with lions, and even fished—bringing in some unbelievable catches! When the Bible comes alive, it’s truths are no longer but distant and far off, but near and transformative. God becomes all the more real not only in the pages but in our hearts and lives. If experiencing the Bible allows me to experience more of God and allows me to fall more in love with Him—than I want all I can get.”
How can readers 'Scout the Divine' in their personal journeys?
- “The beauty of Scouting the Divine is that it reminds us that we don’t have to travel half way around the world to find out more about God. We can discover more of God in our own backyards. We can purposely engage in conversations with those whose daily lives circle around Biblical themes. That may mean taking a small group out to a farm to learn about sowing or reaping. It may mean taking a Bible study class on an excursion to visit a petting farm. It may mean touring a vineyard in order to understand what it really means to abide in the vine. We can prayerfully approach familiar passages of Scripture and humbly ask God, 'Show us Your Word in fresh way. Reveal another facet of yourself in this passage I’ve read a hundred times before. I want to know more of you.' That’s the kind of prayer I think God has a hard time saying no to.”
We’ve heard a rumor there’s a DVD Bible study on the way?
- “Scouting the Divine: My Search for God in Wine, Wool, & Wild Honey 6-week interactive DVD Bible Study is releasing in January from Lifeway. I can’t wait!”
This book seems to possibly open a door for a sequel with other passages. Is that something you've considered?
- “Ahhh, yes! That’s already under discussion, but you’ll have to wait a little longer to find more!”
With such a busy travel schedule, how do you recharge or even find time to write?
- “My husband and I are learning to intentionally embrace rest. Sometimes it’s a day in bed with movies, a lazy afternoon reading on the couch, or an evening in a hotel room on the road simply chatting and being a family. We look for windows of time to recharge and then we purposely engage in the activities that are the most restful and life-giving to us. It requires lots of intentionality, but we’re passionate about. As far as writing, I have mastered the art of writing almost anywhere—airplanes, cars, hotel bathtubs (empty, of course!). It’s my passion so it’s a source joy and delight!”