Sunday, April 30, 2006

Following the Leader

"An elderly woman stood at a busy intersection, afraid to cross among the speeding cars on her own. As she stood there, a younger gentleman walked up to her and asked, 'Excuse me, Ma'am, but would you mind if I crossed with you?' Relieved she took his arm, and together they walked out into the busy street. With each step the woman became more and more terrified. The man, holding her by the arm, walked with quick steps straight ahead, seeming not to notice, or at least not be intimidated by, the numerous cars skidding and swerving around them. Once they reached the other side, the old woman, wide-eyed and out of breath, screamed at the man, 'What were you thinking?! You almost got us killed! Are you blind?!' 'Well, yes...' he replied. 'That's why I asked to cross with you.'"

Apparently it matters who we choose to follow.

So here I stand, weak and tired and worn down from all the stuff life has thrown at me, and it just seems impossible. There is no way I'll make it. I watch as one possible blow of destruction zooms past me, followed by another, and another, and another, and I begin to lose all hope of ever getting across.

My options: two friends. Both are vying for my attention and commitment. The first (the one I've known far longer) wants me to go places the second would never dream of taking me, and the second (who saved my life once) wants the exact opposite of the first. So here I stand, facing my fears, and trying to decide which friend will help me get wherever it is that I need to be.

"We can make it," the second one says. "I promise."
"Don't listen to him. It's not safe, and there's nothing over there anyway. Let's just hang out here for a while. Or...we could always go back."

That was his fatal mistake. I knew I couldn't go back. I knew "back" is where I almost lost my life. Yes, I had known him for a long time. Yes, we had been through a lot together. But I knew that he wanted me to be comfortable, and my comfort was almost the death of me before.

I give my other friend my hand. I take a deep breath. Together we walk out into the terror of my life. I close my eyes and just follow, trusting him with the steps, the pauses, the dashes. After all, "since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."

Living indeed. I can't wait until we make it across. But until then...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Greener Grass

They were dividing the land. Each tribe would get their own territory. It would be theirs to tend, to defend, to fill, to live and to die in. Everyone, that is, except...

"The LORD said to Aaron, 'You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them; I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites.'" ~Numbers 18:20

Whoa whoa whoa! I didn't ask to be part of this family.

"But to the tribe of Levi he gave no inheritance, since the offerings made by fire to the LORD, the God of Israel, are their inheritance, as he promised them." ~Joshua 13:14

Wait, they get land, wealth, and prestige, and we get...burning animal flesh?

"But to the tribe of Levi, Moses had given no inheritance; the LORD, the God of Israel, is their inheritance as he had promised them." ~Joshua 13:33

Okay, so while they get an inheritance, we get God. Because that's what he promised. And that's a promise we wanted. For some reason. Of course.

"The Levites received no share of the land, but only towns to live in, with pasturelands for their flocks." ~Joshua 14:4b

Gee, thanks.

"The Levites, however, do not get a portion among you because the priestly service of the LORD is their inheritance." ~Joshua 18:7a

Oh joy! We get to SERVE you, too? *eyes rolling back dramatically* This couldn't be any more of everything I ever hoped for!

Jipped. They were totally jipped. Everyone else got property, got to fight, got to live normal lives, but if you were part of the family of Aaron, if you had (willingly or not) come in the line of Levi, your fate was sealed. You would serve God. That's it. Done deal. However, they were apparently (and fortunately) far less selfish than I am.

He was their sole purpose. They constantly served as liason between a stiff-necked people and a just God. Their lives were worship, they could allay God's anger on others, they were responsible to pray for others, and He was their ultimate satisfaction. He was enough for them.

And now here I am. The curtain has been torn, and I am welcomed in to the courts of the King, yet as I approach the throne with confidence my eyes find the window. "Land! You're NOT enough. This is not enough. I want what you gave them. I don't just want my needs met. I don't just want to be with you. You're not enough. I"

So easily satisfied by things that don't matter,
so discontent with the only thing that can satisfy.
Oh Aaron, show me how to love the fruitful staff!