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Posts Tagged ‘possibilities’

quiet placeIn Genesis 23, almost the entire chapter is dedicated to the negotiations between Abraham and the local Hittites about a parcel of land and a cave in which to bury Sarah. And although my Bible [NIV] has labeled this chapter “the death of Sarah,” I think it should have been called Abraham’s necropolis.

Again Abraham bowed down before the people of the land and he said to Ephron in their hearing, “Listen to me, if you will. I will pay the price of the field. Accept it from me so I can bury my dead there.”Ephron answered Abraham, “Listen to me, my lord; the land is worth four hundred shekelsof silver, but what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.” [Genesis 23:12-15]

This negotiation, I understand, was rather standard for the day with the exception that it was between a foreigner (Abraham) and a local (Ephron) Hittite. No one believes that Ephron would have given the land to Abraham, that wasn’t how things were done. Instead, there was a lot of “saving face” and gestures of respect and false civilities.

In any case, Abraham would never allow himself to “owe” Ephron for the gift of land. After all, gifts of this kind usually carry strings attached. And perhaps Ephron thought Abraham’s sojourn in the land of Canaan was relatively temporary. We’ll never know. But for Abraham, this was the promised land of God and it was his belief that one day his descendants would indeed conquer the land. This parcel became the first parcel in that conquest. And in later years, not just Sarah, but Abraham himself along with Isaac, Rebekah, Leah, and even Jacob’s bones were carried there by his son, Joseph, many generations later. Only Rachel was buried elsewhere, not far, but immediately after dying of childbirth.

So, why devote an entire chapter to this negotiation? I think the land was important as “Abraham’s little green acre.” I think it symbolized Abraham’s faith in God’s promise, which drove Abraham all of his life. I believe he expected this land and cave to be come the great tomb of the patriarchs. This little piece of land was Abraham’s personal investment in the promise.

He wasn’t trying to “make” things happen (unlike Sarah who had tried to hurry things along by giving Hagar to Abraham to prime the pump for descendants). Abraham was simply putting a standard in the ground, and saying, “we begin here.” In the end, Abraham was still considered a nomad until the day of his death and he never saw the true occupation of the land by God’s people, but he is buried there. He took a foreign piece of land and transformed it.

Then there is a lesson for me. How often have I been overwhelmed by circumstances and unable to see how situations could change or be different? But I think I see a way here. I only have to claim one small piece of the situation. As my pastor suggested, I only have to do the one possible thing, that choice that is within my power or ability to do, and then God can do the rest. I lay down an anchor but God calms the sea.

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todayHave been asking God for some small revelation, some little nugget to feed my soul, but the days are crowded and cramped and my spirit self has been relegated to the back porch. It’s not a good thing. But I still have today.

Look at the grass growing over there. One day it’s thriving in the fields. The next day it’s being used as fuel. If God takes such good care of such transient things, how much more you can depend on God to care for you, weak in faith as you are. [Luke 12:28; The Voice translation]

It’s like a diet sometimes. I mess up and my tendency is to think, “I just blew it; might as well throw this entire day out and eat whatever!” It’s like I condemn myself and give permission to myself all in one fell swoop. Whose voice is that?

And yet, this day, I heard for the first time, begin again right now. Just take a breath and turn around. There is plenty of time; there is plenty of grace for this day yet.

I have been starving my soul. I have been shutting out the Holy Spirit from my daily decisions and directions. It’s like my inner self has been holding her breath.

It’s a good moment to begin again. It’s now. It’s today. Anything is possible.

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