Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Wilderness Plus 40 Years

            I hope its OK with you that I am still into my Sabbath/Sunday kick.  The Sabbath the people are called to remember and make holy is established while they are wandering.  Wandering for a while actually.  The commandments are in hand and the Golden Calf consumed.  And this happens.  They send spies into the land to see if it can be inhabited.
           Only the witness of Joshua and Caleb encourages them to make the move.  But Moses and people are not convinced and THEN God sends them into the Great Lent of their wilderness wandering.  The clock starts and they must wait 40 years to enter the promised land.  In that time they become a new people.  Parents and grandparents are all gone by the time Joshua takes those born in the wilderness across the Jordan into the land of promise.

“. . .  the people of Israel [were] in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho. But among these there was not a man of those numbered by Moses and Aaron the priest, who had numbered the people of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai. For the LORD had said of them, “They shall die in the wilderness.” There was not left a man of them, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.” Numbers 26:63-65, RSV.

            It is worth it for us to consider that our plans, even those generated out of established traditions and customs may not be the real work of our lives in Lent or in the larger lent that is our whole lives.  Even with things like the commandments in hand the people and Moses with them are not confident in God’s promise.  Even with our lives contained by homes, family, investments and occupations we are more often than not afraid and not confident in God’s promises either. 
            Brene Brown’s take on this was to marvel that our generation with all that it has is still the most afraid of any generation.  Fear tells us who we are in the morning.  Fear gets us to crave news and somehow especially the news that feeds our fears.  Fear keeps us from seizing the moments in honest and trustful ways and instead gets us to horde and compare stacks with our neighbors.  Fear redefines our neighbors away from us. 
            Like that line that says, “If you want to make God laugh, just show God your plans.”  Our plans are not what will make even our 40 day sojourn effective.  Our organizing principles can only help us stay.  The new people God is calling us to become requires of us a confidence beyond the structures and rules and  . . . plans. 
            Shriving takes time, way more time than a pancake supper.  Growing out of the fear and into a people of promise that is still ahead means that little if any of what we have protected and structured our lives around will accompany us where God calls.   It’s less that we will have to always “think outside the box.”  It’s more that we are learning to trust.  Trust God to be more than the enough we need.  Trust each other as something new is being born in us that is the life we will live into God’s promise.  It takes time for fears to die and for trust to be born and sometimes it feels like a wilderness.

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