Blessed are you, O Lord;
How wonderful the work of your hands!
As a mother tenderly gathers her children
you embraced a people as your own.
When they turned away and rebelled
your love remained steadfast.
From them you raised up Jesus our Savior, born of Mary,
to be the living bread,
in whom all our hungers are satisfied.
He offered his life for sinners
and with a love stronger than death
he opened wide his arms on the cross. - www.oremus.org
How often do I ask God for guidance thinking that if I don't comprehend the urgings of the Spirit exactly so then the world will come crashing down around my head? Often. And with great vigor. This morning, however, I am reminded that grace and discernment don't really work that way. The Bible is not a prognosticative device. My icons are not scrying stones.
I want to talk about what's happening next, but there are phone calls to make first. I promised Spouse that I would not spill the beans electronically. It's hard for me. This blog and all that social media have become a way that I express myself. So, alas, we'll wait. I'm sure you won't mind.
The process of deciding is a total mind f**k for me. Something that is already large is made insurmountable by all my imaginings and attempts to control (I want to say "predict" but to be honest, I'm trying to control the outcome...so...yeah. Oops.) the outcome of my decisions. I want to know exactly how it's going to turn out before I get there and life just doesn't work that way. We are always walking blindly in a wilderness. If we are lucky, there will be a pillar of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night.
I seem to have misplaced my pillars, so I have been relying on other means to hear God's voice. Mostly it's been people like you. So, thank you for giving Voice to God. I am grateful.
This morning I stumbled across Deuteronomy 1:19-40 where the Israelites pull up in fear before they enter the Promised Land. They pull back. They convince themselves that there are giants living in the land and, once again, they should never have left Egypt and it's slave markets. At least they knew how to work the markets. It's a familiar feeling. I'm right there on the edge of the precipice and though I have been told again and again that The Land of Promise is just on the other side...
So, God says "Fine. Nevermind. You are not ready. I'll wait for your kids to grown up. You are still stuck in Egypt. The Land of Promise shall belong to your children in stead." It's a tough judgment. But it makes sense. Sometimes it takes generations to break the old familial habits. It takes generations to come to a new understanding of how to be community. We'll even convince ourselves that there are giants over on the other side to keep ourselves from choosing the new thing. So, God waits for our children to grow up and they'll show us the way.
This is the interesting thing about the Land of Promise: It's not all roses and dark chocolate. It's not about ease. It's not about an end to questions or anxiety. When the Israelites finally do make it to the Promised Land, they discover that they have taken themselves with them. They are still the people they were back on the other side of the Jordan. Even though they are not their parents, they are their parents' children. Thus this word from God in the prayer this morning.
You see, God will love them anyway. They'll bicker and fight. Sometimes they will duke it out in the streets and burn down the neighborhood. It's a pretty intense relationship. But no matter what the Israelites decide, the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. The decision to enter or not enter really isn't about the ability of God to love them or to give them greater or lesser ease. It's all about their willingness to risk, to do the new thing, to make a choice to leave one thing behind for a new thing and then...
...and this is the hard part...It is about their willingness to trust God to be there, too.
Do I really believe that God is on the other side of this thing? To be honest, I struggle with that. I have to remind myself that God will be. I imagine the other side of the Jordan to be a godless place where I am alone. There will be giants. There will be walls so high that I cannot get over them. My imagination gets the best of me all the time. It's my favorite kind of insanity. I'll own that. But these imaginings are just not true. It's my false belief and though it cripples me from time to time, the truth is that I will cross the river to the other side.
I recently learned something about milk and honey. They are not metaphors for fat and sweetness. We're not talking about ice cream (Though I wish we were!). Milk, honey, anything associated with making life happen, with nourishing the young, with fluids that escape one form of life to nourish the other are sacred. They sustain. Fermentation, milk, honey...these are living things...They provide life.
God is always trying to guide us where there is life...and so that we may have it more abundantly. Milk. Honey. This is how God guides us. This is the promise of the Love of God. It's not about being right. It's not about safety and security. It's about following Life.