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Posts Tagged ‘Exodus’

promiseWhich is it? When we say we will do something, when we agree, when we say yes, is there power in it? Three months after their exodus from Egypt, they arrived at Mt. Sinai and before any commandments were given, before any rules were laid down, God said this:

Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”. . . . [and they answered] “We will do everything the Lord has said.” [Exodus 19:5-6a, 8b, NIV]

It’s a similar response that a bride and groom make to one another. Sometimes the answer is “I do” and sometimes the answer is “I will,” but in both cases, they are responses to a question that might be something like this, “will you have ‘so and so’ to be your wedded husband/wife, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of matrimony; will you love him/her, comfort him/her, honor and keep him/her, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, keep yourself only for him/her so long as you both shall live?”

And God  basically asked the same of the Israelites. Will you obey me fully and they said we will.

But they did not. They thought they could. They thought they would. But they did not. And for this reason, for this “fail,” the history of these people was changed forever, yet again. And Jesus asked for no less, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” [Matthew 22:37-40, NIV]

And did we? We did not. We do not.

It’s not rocket science, this living within the parameters of God’s plan: love, obey, trust, believe. And why don’t we? I can say we are still like Eve and Adam. We want more than what God offers. We believe we know better. We believe we might miss something if we agree to this small world. I see myself kicking against the limitations I perceive God has made against me, not seeing that following with abandon, in trust, opens the world to me. I must let go to have. I must give to receive. The paradox continues.

Today, God is still asking me, will trust God to be God in my life?

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passover angelBack in the day when the Israelites were finally released from Egypt, it happened at great cost, the lives of all firstborn children and animals throughout the land (not to mention the previous nine plagues), except for those protected by God in Goshen: the chosen ones were passed over. How often are we passed over, thinking it’s a bad thing, when in reality, it is for a greater good?

On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. [Exodus 12:12-13]

So often, God’s timing is unclear in the moment. Only in hindsight, can we see the consequences.

I remember how disappointed I was when I was passed over for promotion after promotion in my work. And yet, looking back, the outcomes had their own blessings. In one case, a less challenging position offered me the opportunity to get a second Master’s degree. In another case, I was able to learn and grow in the cyber world and non-traditional librarianship (at the time). I learned what it meant to become an early adopter and to forge new paths in the computerized world. And later, another loss, merely opened a door that brought me back to my own community, where I now live, work, and worship. I am content here.

Perhaps it is a wisdom that comes with age and experience. The very thing that appears to be a calamity transforms into a grace.

Of course, in the Exodus time, the Israelites were saved from the grief of losing their firstborn children, but then they also left everything they knew to flee into a desert that challenged them daily. Not everyone was so sure that this passing over would come to good. Not all could not see that promised land of milk and honey; only those who embraced their faith in God.

It is no different today. I must believe in God’s ultimate plan for my good, or at the least, the good that may come after me because of where I live or how I live or the children I send forth into the world.

Today, in the New York Times, I read an OpEd piece by Frank Bruni, and although this piece was driven by his observations about age and wisdom in sports, specifically Peyton Manning, he included additional observations about maturity and our response to life events.

And it’s no accident that many of us, while remembering and sometimes yearning for the electricity of first loves and the metabolism of our salad days, don’t really want to turn back the clock. We know that for everything that’s been taken away from us, something else has been given. . . . We’re short on flat-out exuberance. We’re long on perspective. . . . Life is about learning to look past what’s lost to what’s found in the process . . . [Frank Bruni, Maturity’s Victories]

 

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I amSo many times I have read about the great “I AM,” the God of all Gods, the one God who cannot really be named or explained. When Moses asked who should I tell the Israelites in Egypt sent me to them, and he was told:

God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord [I AM], the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ [Exodus 3:14-15]

But in the notes, this I AM phrase has alternative meaning: I will be what I will be. And decidedly, in English at least, this brings up a whole new array of possibilities.

I am still working on a full engagement with the present. This idea crosses over into a variety of disciplines both Eastern and Western. It is accepting the now, being full in the now, and living it without remorse for what is past or fear of the future.

But now I am challenged to consider as well this more open-ended God who is and will be. Not that I didn’t know that of course, but I find it intriguing to ponder God, perhaps as a point within me for the now and then stretching outward my center self in an ever growing, ever widening funnel of “God Self.” God is now but also God is potential, forever.

God is telling Moses, “No worries: here now and here tomorrow.” All of time is God’s now.

How can we not be grateful for the invitation to be in relationship with this God of today and forever? There are not enough songs to sing, poems to recite, or words to say that can capture the wonder of God in me and in the universe, a personal God and a cosmic One. This is the reason we glorify God. This is the reason we praise. This is the reason we surrender.

Who sends you?

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Why do we picture God?

Why do we picture God?

He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspringbe.”Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness. [Genesis 15:5-6]

You have an attitude about promises? I know I do. Apparently, I’m a classic case, too many promises have been broken along the way. The only good thing that came from that is I don’t make my own promises lightly. It’s serious stuff, this promise-making.

But, I am grateful that I also learned that the promises of God are outside the norm.

God cannot be anthropomorphized, giving God human characteristics. And yet, people do it all the time, as though we need a picture to grab onto God. How many pictures have we seen of God in a long white beard sitting on a throne, much like a high-end Santa in flowing robes or a collective consciousness of what Zeus might look like if he wasn’t just a myth. Ha Ha. Why is that funny? Because people are quick to call the Greeks and Romans foolish in their many gods, and yet, our imagined “God” is OK.

It’s one of the reasons the ten commandments include a warning (number four), “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” [Exodus 20:4-6] We are not supposed to make God like us. God is not “like” anything we know. “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” [John 4:24]

God promises are birthed in Spirit and manifest in our world in a way that cannot be judged by time and space.

And yet, I keep trying to put God in my time box. I keep wanting the promises to either be fulfilled (in a way I recognize) or in a time frame that suits (maybe within my lifetime might be good). And here’s the point of Abraham. He believed without being given the specifics or the time. This wholesale faith in the promises of God makes all the difference.

So, two things I want to carry with me today: One: the image of God that we have been given, one with skin and recognizable human was Jesus, the anointed Christ, the promised Messiah. How long did that take? And two, well, I’m thinking. It’s about the promises. I need to do some extra work on that idea, a series, I guess. What is my life promise, like Abraham’s? Perhaps I have been too scattered all these years. I will be asking for that revelation, that promise revealed.

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