Friday, March 25, 2011

What Might Have Been

Judges 6:1-10

The Israelites had finally made it, received their inheritance – a land flowing with milk and honey. Just a few simple instructions: Do not allow people of foreign gods to live amongst you. When you enter in, I will give you the victory, but you must wipe them out! Do I need to say it?  They disobeyed, allowing heathen tribes and people to live among them.  Eventually, their disobedience resulted in another tribe so oppressive the Israelites were forced to take refuge in caves and mountain clefts.  The Midianites were a heathen people so powerful they would swoop into town at harvest time and claim for themselves the toil of the Israelites, robbing God’s people of everything they had worked so hard to plant and grow.  Imagine someone meeting you on the front porch when you return from Whole Foods, grabbing the bags from your hands, stepping back inside and slamming the door in your face.  The Israelites lived like beggars and nomads in their own land - a land so fertile and bursting with potential, a land specifically for them, but lost to them because of their sin.

At the age of two I went to my first Sunday school class at the very church I attend today. My parents worked three jobs to pay Christian school tuition for my brother and me. We said grace at every meal, and I never heard my dad listen to anything other than Christian radio. Never will I be able to stand before the Throne and say, “I didn’t know.” When I looked at those with whom I graduated or those who remained in the church, I am reminded of what I lost. I left the church the same year I left the school; I abandoned my parents, my heritage, and my God “to do it all my way.” I disobeyed to the point of living like a beggar – physically beaten, emotionally battered, spiritually empty, no place to call home. But it never had to be that way. I, too, could have remained married to the same man for twenty-five years; I, too could have gotten my degree from some place other than “School of Hard Knocks.” But I, like the Israelites, chose to disobey, chose my own way, and gave up something so perfect, for offal, refuse, excrement.  What lengths we are willing to go, to cling to our own disobedience!

It is only through God’s grace that today I am married to The World’s Best Husband.  It is only if God takes one of us Home that we will not make twenty-five years, but I doubt we’ll live to celebrate fifty. It is only by God’s grace I have a great family, a warm home full of love, a successful career as a mother, and people who cheer me on to follow my dreams – it’s everything I could have ever wanted. But I can’t help knowing, when we give our lives to following God He gives us even more.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Unshackled and Prosperous

So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey..."  (Exodus 3:8a)

Isn’t it enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness?  (Numbers 16:13a)

The Israelites were miserable in Egypt; they were slaves.  No incomes, no land to call their own, no rights -- slaves; strictly subsisting on whatever the Egyptians decided they could have. In fact, it had gotten so bad, the pharaoh had tried keeping their numbers in check by exterminating them!  When Moses petitioned him to let the Israelites go, he increased their workload.  It eventually took the death of every firstborn son in Egypt (Pharaoh's son and livestock included) to convince the Egyptian leader he was better off without them.  Even before his son had gotten all settled in at Canopic Suites of Pyamid Place, Pharaoh reconsidered and had his property chased down, only to lose all his army in the Red Sea!  Talk about your control issues!

God promised His people a "land flowing with milk and honey."  Don't picture "River la Leche" or "Honeybee Hills," but a land of untold, infinite prosperity; so much so that you could say "the land flows with milk and honey."  What a contrast from the life of slaves -- much less slaves in the deserts of Egypt, held against their will by a tyrant!

Now, fast forward to the scene in Numbers 16.  Dathan and Abiram have been summoned by Moses to answer for their role in an uprising against the current -- translated God's hand-picked -- leadership.  They refuse to come forth, justifying it by turning God's own words back on Him and His chosen authority.  Boy, are they gonna get it!  Growing up, I think I threw my dad's words back at him once -- just once -- my dad was a certified belt Samurai!  Anyway, they wind up swallowed by the earth -- not an earthquake, mind you -- think very intentional, the earth closed back over them!  All that aside, though, how could they even utter those untruths about Egypt?  How could anyone call slavery an opportunity for prosperity or happiness?  How could anyone ever say I'd rather face extermination than this? 

The answer is rather simple -- Satan.  They don't call him The Father of Lies for nothing.  He's always happy to help you change your point of view; he supports your choice to rebel, will even help you distort the truth so you can feel better about it.  So long as you open that door, he'll keep his foot in it.  And he's sure to be smooth about it.  Let's face it, school prayer wasn't in on Tuesday and out on Wednesday; complete erosion of values takes time, stealth, cunning.  You're not on your knees one day, and eating from pigs' troughs the next.  But you make the choice.  You're either gonna step out in faith, or step out of bounds; it's God's Truth that sets the slave free.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Break of...

I love getting up with the fishes uh, make that -- birds.  It's dark; only the yellow glow of tiny nightlights to point the way.  The house is still but for the beating heart of the clock in the living room.  Bishop wriggles and snorts, begging for my undivided attention.  The coffee pot grinds and growls to life, and suddenly -- it hits!  A thought so immediate, so intrusive it bursts through the silence like lightening in a summer sky --

"When real people hearing shocking news, does whatever they are holding really crash to the floor, or is that just a Hollywood thing?"

And so begins my day as a writer...