Have you ever had to draw a boundary with someone you love that was excruciatingly difficult? The kind where you feel you have been cornered at last – and you have no other option but to cut them off somehow? The kind where their choices and/or behavior have tied your hands so that you are no longer able to reach to them, help them or have relationship any more? It’s a difficult place to find oneself. I think we sometimes live in denial that it is a real place because it is so painful to have to arrive there. But the Bible is full of stories of this kind of extreme breaking of relationship. Isaiah chapter one describes the raw emotion of just such a scenario.
I find it very exciting in our daily Bible readings to have entered the wonderful world of the mind of “the Disciple whom Jesus loved” – John, Son of Zebedee. This is such a beautiful account of the Gospel message! A dear friend once pointed out to me that John possibly described himself in this book in this way, not in arrogance, but rather in the humblest of connotations. He meant it to express an idea something like this, “Jesus – the exalted Son of God Himself – loved me, even me. Isn’t that an astonishing and wonderful-beyond-belief thing?!!” I like to approach it like this because I think John was more in-tune with Jesus than most anyone else at the time. He saw his Lord and Savior as both his best friend and his King of Kings. He was so very thankful for Jesus’ love.
The faith of Joshua and Caleb is rather startling when you consider it carefully. Here are two men who had spirits within them that were superior to their peers on every level. These peers, however, were the “leaders’ of their nation. They were well-respected members of the elders of Israel – each a mighty man representing his own tribe. Unfortunately, when a true life-test of faith came along, these men melted into puddles of fear and unbelief. It is worth asking ourselves if we have an exceptional world-view of faith like Joshua and Caleb, or whether we fall into the doubter category.
Last night I was happily surprised to hear lots of croaking frogs down by the creek. I also have been delighted, once again, at the number of singing and squawking birds that are flittering through the trees in our yard. I guess it is true that Spring has begun! The frogs brought to mind a lovely Haiku poem that I have had running through my head ever since.
Do you remember the scene in the original “Grinch Who Stole Christmas” when the Grinch’s heart grew, after he observed the sweet spirit of the Whos, even after he tried to steal their Christmas? Boris Karloff’s voice booming… “In Whoville they say, the Grinch’s heart grew 3 sizes that day!” will forever be etched in my memory. That’s my favorite part!! When I was a child (back in the days when you could only watch it once a year) it was THIS scene that always caused MY heart to swell too.
It is an excellent Bible study technique to take special note of the first occurrence of a given word in Scripture. Often many clues to the hidden wisdom of certain concepts can be ferreted out by exploring their first use very carefully. I was reminded of this as I read Luke Chapter One today. Let’s take “Jesus 101” Class together, shall we? You know the textbook – and the tuition is free!
I have been giving considerable thought to the bird’s-eye-view of the series of events we are reading about in Exodus right now. I had some new observations I thought worth sharing with you. If you recall, the last few chapters have had a varied array of behavior by our friends (so like us) – the Children of Israel. The narrative jumps back and forth between two levels of description. The descriptions of actual events that occurred on fateful days in their lives are interspersed with the detailed descriptions of God’s commands for how to construct and operate their new system of worship on a national level. It is unlike the way human authors typically write a narrative. That’s clearly because it is not a human Author.
Have you ever given much thought to manna? It was an astonishing substance!! It tasted delicious. It appeared and disappeared miraculously. It came in double portions on the sixth day (or at least there was enough for them to gather double portions.) It was convenient. It was versatile and was made into sweet coriander-like cakes (v.31 & Numbers 11:8) It had the nutrition necessary (combined with quail) to keep people healthy in a desert/nomadic lifestyle. It was provided directly, daily by God’s own hand. It was sent for 40 years and stopped on the very day they first ate the produce of the promised land (Joshua 5:12) And wondrously, on certain days, no worms were in the manna!
One of my all-time favorite scenes in a movie is found in the final scenes in Wall-E – a Disney/Pixar film that was released in 2008. In this computer-animated sci-fi scenario, robots have made humans redundant. People sit in motorized lounge chairs “having become obese and feeble due to microgravity and reliance on an automated lifestyle,” – their every desire fulfilled at the touch of a button. It is a poignant scene because it has transported out of the imagination-realm and into reality more and more with each generation. I believe we have far too much instant, mind-numbing, fruitless entertainment at our fingertips.
I do not believe in ghosts, but I do believe in hauntings. Let me explain. The Bible is so brilliant in the way it describes our natures, in order to allow us to listen to its wisdom and learn to find answers and make changes. Today’s immersion of our thoughts in to Joseph and his brothers’ lives holds a key to unlocking issues that may haunt each one of us as well. Consider with me, the way that guilt can haunt our consciences and never give us rest – even after years and years of self-deception.