OK, first, my apologies for not blogging regularly the past few months. My New Year’s resolution is to blog more faithfully…at least once a week. That may mean more short, quick entries, links and embedded You Tube pieces and fewer rambling archeological digs into the hidden corners of my psyche, but many of you will see that as a good thing. I tend to agree. (Although I do SO love to rant & ramble!)
So on to the first blog of 2009…Something that’s been on my mind a lot lately is this whole notion of where we see ourselves along life’s journey. And it’s begun to occur to me that we often tend to see wherever we ARE (in an existential sense) as being at the end of the road. The clarity of hindsight shows us that past events have led us exactly to this point. We have arrived at our Destination, whatever that is, whatever it means, and that’s it. All of life has led to today. We somehow forget to look ahead and see what might be coming next.
We’ve been studying the Exodus in our Disciple II class for the past several weeks. And as we looked at the Hebrews’ cycle of pleading for God’s help, receiving blessings and miracles from Him, then forgetting all about Him, I started to wonder if maybe this sort of dynamic wasn’t playing out in the Sinai. I mean, here these folks are who have only known indentured servitude for 10 or 12 generations. It’s what their daddies did, and their daddies before them, and their daddies before them, and…well, you get the point. So they’re finally delivered and they think, whoa, this is COOL! We’re OUT!! They party all night, singing songs and praising God. Probably crack open a bottle or two of vintage Egyptian vino.
Then it hits them…. Now what?
You can almost hear the coversation: “OK, so God saved us from Egypt and delivered us from slavery. Yay, God! And Moses is talking about this awesome milk-and-honey land he’s going to lead us to. Far out. Are we there yet? No? Well now what are we supposed to do? What are we going to eat? I’m thirsty! Moses! I have to go to the bathroom! I wanna go HOME!”
They just can’t quite grasp that there’s more to come. It’s all about TODAY. NOW. Moses wanders up on a mountain for a few weeks, and people don’t see or hear anything from him. “He must’ve called it quits. Split. Totally bailed and left us hanging out here in the desert. Well if God won’t take care of us right here and now, we’ll build us a new god, that’s what we’ll do. Melt us down some gold and make us a calf to worship. That’ll help!”
I wonder how often we do that same sort of thing. We find ourselves at a certain place in life, surrounded as always by circumstances and with a clear understanding of how past events have led us right to this point. “So, this is what it’s all about,” we say to ourselves. “This is where I’m supposed to be. Well that’s just dandy.” But what if I don’t like it here?
Or maybe the question is, what if I like it here so well, I never get off my butt and go anywhere else? Or maybe we’re SO intent on where we think we’re going, we can’t appreciate where we are and the part that place plays in the broader journey. The Israelites couldn’t wait to get to the Promised Land, but they’d never actually seen it, so all they could do was imagine it. And you know what it’s like when we start imaginging someplace better than the place we are…we become very discontented with our current situation. I think a lot of church folk can get stuck in that trap. Just waitin’ for the rapture, but not participating in the here and now of God’s kingdom.
Somewhere in all of this, there’s a balance. An appreciation of where we are on life’s journey, but with equal anticipation for what comes next. Looking for those places that Rick McKinley calls “signposts in the kingdom,” where we see God at work through people and we get to participate in the story.
As I type this, Lorie is watching the news in the next room and I can hear Matt Williams bemoaning all the doom and gloom of the economic crisis. “Woe are we! The sky is falling! Life sucks!” There’s absolutely no looking beyond the tip of our collective nose. We seem to have lost our capacity to find silver linings. It’s as if we’ve either reached the end of the line and are stuck here for good, or we are so anxious for something better we can’t see the beauty that still exists in the here and now.