(read part 1 here)
Because I love you, I want to tell you about my hope. It’s the mystical work of God that one can love another who sometimes they never see or are never physically present with, but it is nonetheless true. My readers, my traveling companions, I love you.
As I write to you I am surrounded by, in stereo, the river’s ever forward charge, the raven’s chatter between the boughs, and a clicking sound above me in the firs—there are squirrels saying something to one another that sounds almost human in tonality after their clicking. It’s the faintest of oddities and all of it together, the river’s tumbling, the birds… it could almost make me forget about the strange days we find ourselves in now.
Almost, but not quite. It feels strange to me, but I think by now in just about any corner you live, you feel the strangeness too. I live in Washington State, USofA, the former “leading edge of the coronavirus in the country”, now far outnumbered by the epidemic’s spread in the east of the country.
For all the things my heart is bursting with to write to you, I cannot write to you consolation with facts that all will be well. Many in our world have died, many more will die. There are no words to manage this grief.
But, if you will let me, I desire to wrap my figurative arms around and tell you my undying hope for such a time as this—it is a hope that stands whether we or those we love who are not strong enough for a virus like this perish or not. If you are reading this, we have today, together…like we do everyday. Walk with me a ways?
If you have a version of God in your mind that informs you He sits in heaven waiting for opportunities to throw lightning bolts at humanity, or maybe “He” is no where at all… I want to ask you if there is any way possible that you can lay that down for a moment while we “take a walk together” and you read my words to you?
If not…maybe you can read anyways : )…maybe you can simply observe “my slice of wilds”, He is near. with us.
And, I know we are not here to be found guilty, (that could be over in an instant) but rather what we are here everyday for…to take account of ourselves, to be glad, to look up wide-eyed to a mother who in essence is saying, “this, too, is for good.” Perhaps we find ourselves in that proverbial vinyl-sticky-in-the-summer backseat recognizing our own lack of perspective, vision, hope, that there even is still good, that there even is still a way…forward.
There’s no way to consider every single complexity in what is happening in the varied places and ways it is happening and rapidly changing. However, from my own slice of the wilds, sent out to you in yours…
Two things I believe are true:
1) There is an imposed, involuntary, and potentially opportune time of rest occurring in our world. With all my heart I believe this is a gift and yet one we could more easily discern if we knew better how to heed our Maker of the universe’s way… especially when this “rest” comes with so much stress…I know. I feel it too.
Still, if we will, we have before us an opportunity.
May I tell you what I know of Creator’s way? It is full of intentional rest and breathing spaces (hard stops in the midst of chaotic life) because we need it and because He wants us to know Him—He has invited every human being into everything from once-a-week rest, to a monthly space of reflection, to (at the least) three major vacations in the year (the biblical calendar) to breathe and see His goodness.
Some of us know this, some of us have had no idea. I didn’t. And what I did know I did not understand…I thought His ways were onerous, heavy, burdensome—not gifts.
How do we take hold of this opportunity before us? And please allow me be very clear, I do mean opportunity, not requirement. The Hebrew people were given requirements in order to gleam the luminescense of YHVH’s ways to the rest of the world, and they have been faithful. The nations, on the other hand, are invited to learn from them His liberating ways. One of these ways—a rhythm of rest, an echo from the beginning of time.
I so often imagined His ways would bind me but only to find out, they have been for my very unbinding. Now, it the pleasure of my life to bind myself to El Roi, the God who sees.
2) An opportunity lies before us to recognize what is true everyday, there are never any guarantees. What if we take a beat of rest in this beautiful song we are found in (life itself, here, today)? Consider. Hear, Elohim’s call to Adam, mankind, another creation echo…Where are you?
There is an enacting, a thrusting of an ordained accounting we feel has been interloped upon us. Suddenly we are faced with the possibility of an unpredictable illness, details are becoming known that have made it seem impossible to hide from, even for the masses —even for the healthy—there are no guarantees. What, if anything, will cause us all to pause and take account of our lives like this could?
I hear hope. faithfulness. and love. I hear it the way I do the river, the birds, and the squirrels—in stereo.
Is it possible to receive this time as love? To *hear* it as love? To transform it into love? It’s the mystical work of God that one can love another who sometimes they never see or are never physically present with, but it is nonetheless true.
I feel the weight of these words, the gravity they come with are not one of condemnation of our world though, please hear me there. Rather, I hear a call to be consecrated — does that just sound like a “christianese” word to you? It’s far more ancient than “Christianity”. This is the thing the King of the Universe was teaching Moses at the burning bush when he told him it was time to take off his shoes. He was in a holy place.
We are in a holy place!
We are in a holy place, a place of opportunity to see and own, yes, our misbehavior and our misunderstandings, this is a moment in time to accept that there is a rule higher than our own and a reign by a King in whose good kingdom we live. This is our Father’s world. He is a King, He is the good ruler and maker of the universe, He knows how it should run, He knows what is for our blessing, and in many cases we have not listened, nor have we even truly known.
Now we are invited to, listen, with willing hearts. We are invited to rest, we are invited to trust the King’s good ways, we are invited to take account of our own hearts, to see if there is wickedness in us, to see if there is need for rest, to see if we need to forgive another so that we that too can be forgiven.
Thank you, thank you, for the time you just took to read my heart on these matters. I know there is so much vying for each of our attention right now, many more bright and flashy things… My little blog is a quiet place, that is intentional. I like to imagine it like a walk in the woods, because I know a walk in the woods is good, we can *hear* there.
In that spirit, I will leave a few more things below for your consideration, possibly study if you want. Most of all, I want you to know you are not alone wherever you are reading this…by that I mean, yes, my company…I want you to feel companionship here, but beyond that—I’ve never known this more—our Creator is near to us, He is calling. He is inviting.
Please, don’t wait for a “burning bush” moment…the prophet Isaiah has already told us the truth, “The whole world is filled with His glory!” (Isaiah 6:13), may we respond as did some of the first of the nations who witnessed this glory through Yeshua (Jesus) the Nazarene, “…what must we do to be saved?”
To be very practical, to prepare a path before you in these woods we find ourselves in (together)—to give an unobstructed view for our next steps:
May I suggest, opening your hands in gratitude today? For what is, for what we have been given? life. breath. today.
As I learn more of the Eternal One’s ways I recognize He is enthroned as the King simply when we give Him thanks. Every holy day in the biblical record begins and is dedicated to Him with this simple act, every holy space in time is set apart this way. It is, as one of my favorite authors, Abraham Joshua Heschel, expresses…like entering, “a sanctuary in time”. Open your hands, lift your eyes.
(A poem by Israeli poet Rachel)
I did not plough, I did not sow,
I did not pray for rain;
And suddenly my fields aglow,
Instead of weeds, there’s grain.
Is this a harvest from the past,
Warm wheat cut long ago,
And brought me in the days of fast
In ways I cannot know?
Grow, grow, ripen fast,
Grow, you marvellous field;
I hear the prophet of the past:
Cry: “Eat, and from it yield.”
An ancient King of Israel, once in a critical position himself, left posterity with a prayer,
“And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD and said: ‘O LORD, the God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, (the king attacking at the time) which he has sent to mock the living God. Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. So now, O LORD our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O LORD, are God alone.’” -2 Kings 19:15-19
This was a prayer of hope and humanity. We learn as we read on that the LORD heard Hezekiah’s prayer. The prophet Isaiah, speaking to King Hezekiah said:
“And this shall be the sign for you: this year eat what grows of itself, and in the second year what springs of the same. Then in the third year sow and reap and plant vineyards, and eat their fruit.
And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord will do this.” 2 Kings 19:29-31
I, and maybe you, are not the house of Judah and we may not be in Jerusalem, but we can know their God, (as the apostle Paul taught) we can be a part of their family, we can know the faithfulness of the One who has kept them through impossible circumstances throughout history. We can know we are loved with this kind of ardor too.
My country, America, is not a representation of the right and good ways of the luminescence of the God of Israel, but we can begin to be. We can learn His ways.
How do we respond with valor and faithfulness? How do we lift our head when we feel overcome either with anxiety or maybe even a sense of failure or uncertainty in our personal lives, or disappointment?
An illuminating understanding of the incense that was burned as a symbol of the Jewish peoples prayers is found in Likutei Sichot (1, vol. 21, pp. 179), it explains, that:
“one of the ingredients of the incense was galbanum (a foul smelling herb). Because of its foul smell, this herb alludes to the wrongdoers of our people. The fact that galbanum was an essential component of the incense teaches us that all Jews are an essential part of the Jewish nation, even if their behavior is sometimes inappropriate.”
No, I am not a Jew, most of you reading this are not likely Jews—we don’t have to be, through Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) all have been invited to be a part of His family. My family, and a growing number around the world like us, respect, honor, and are grateful for the floodlight of truth the People of the Book have been faithful to preserve and pass on to the world, to us.
The writing continues in a most precious truth,
“We must therefore never exclude one of our fellow Jews from the community, even if there are aspects of their behavior that would seem to justify this. In fact, our sages teach us that any public prayer or fast from which sinners are intentionally excluded will not be effective! This is because, by virtue of their Divine souls, every Jew possesses inestimable worth and is in fact full of good deeds. Each of our unique personalities plays a crucial role in the destiny of the Jewish people and the world in general.”
My friends, these words are true and they are for us too. You too are of inestimable worth. If I can observe the ravens, and squirrels how much more does He, us! We, are human-doings more than we let ourselves be, human-beings… we are being invited to see our and other’s worth, to see how powerful and worthy it is to spend our lives LOVING one another. There is no time like now for us to engage in love.
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets… Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” -Yeshua the Messiah (Matthew 7:12, 24-25)
We are being invited to see that we are seen with inestimable worth. If you are reading this, you have been created in the image of a good God who takes every part of us into His hands, like a father cups a child’s face that He adores, and says to us, “this, too, is for the good!”
More than that, He is of the audacious, courageous breed who say, “this, too, is for the best”. You, my friends, your lives, your hearts, your souls—your everything. You are welcome here, to grow gently, to unfold, to start with open hands…
When you wonder what it might be like to be faithful to the way of the God of Israel, know that it is much more about knowing the way He is faithful to His children—and that includes you.
You are known, you are seen, you are not alone. However, if this note finds you lonely, “this, too,…”
(did you fill in the blank?)
…yes, “this, too, is for the best” is my hope, and my prayer for all of us—from the healthcare and public workers (THANK YOU! God bless and keep you) to anyone home a little lonely right now—this is a precious moment in time, to open our hands… and then see who else needs to know that too.
Remember as you go, grow gently through this, know that we will all fluctuate in our feelings, in giving thanks and asking questions and having concerns. This is to be human, and human is what we were created to be.
Thank you for your time, for that walk through the woods, I needed it. More soon…
Please share this with anyone you know who could use a walk in the woods too?
For a further companion in prayer: my book, Pray, Like a Woman in Labor, is available on amazon.
*as the apostles and Paul taught: Acts 15, Romans 11, as the prophets foretold: Isaiah 56