Tuesday, June 1, 2010

From the book . . .

Chapter 24

Not seeing but believing

Remember when our story’s ancestors were following Moses out of Egypt and became afraid of the raging water and closing Egyptians? Moses had an answer for them, this reminder of God’s companionship when they felt forgotten.

He knew the people were scared, but he also knew God was with them, watching, preparing. He knew they had one job to do—to focus on the trust corner of the square. Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:13-14). Moses knew, but he was as human as the rest of us.

And God was not without His wit, either. Was Moses’ own trust and faith slipping despite his words, maybe a little doubt seeping in like an ink stain on cotton? The next verses read: Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground” (Exodus 14:15-16).

Can’t you just read the love and patience on a litter of grace God threaded between those lines? He’s saying, “What’s wrong with you people? I said I’d take care of this and I will. Why are you asking Me about it again? Trust Me and do what I say, that’s all we need. I’ve got My corners of the square covered.”

And His did. We’re told that all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided (Exodus 14:21). Done, no sweat.

And yet, we go through this exercise over and over and over. That trusting part can be just as hard for us as it was for the water-crossers. We have a hard time letting go of that human part of us that wants to hold and touch everything that’s happening to know it’s real. We want to see a diagram of what God’s doing in our lives along with what He’s doing anywhere else that might concern us. Color-coded would be a plus. We want to know the answers and the methods and the outcomes of everything that frightens us or confuses us. We can’t.

We can’t live our lives that way because God didn’t design it that way. He planned for us to take hold of the spiritual part of us and put the human fears to rest. He planned for us to not know everything but to do the most important thing—to trust Him to know and do everything else. The square’s only a square when all four corners work together.

We wait in hope for the Lord’ he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.
Psalm 33:20-22

Dreaming Jesus

The dream I remember most still lives in me, revisited often when fear comes calling.

My eyes opened all the way when I woke up, searching the dawn for clues to my heartbeat echo in the quiet. The dream unfurled in my mind like one of those cartoon flip books you flutter really fast to make the figures move. Then I interrupted the show and inspected the scenes frame-by-frame, determined to discover every detail and miss nothing.

As if I had settled myself to pull the stubborn morning glories from my squash patch, I could feel the slick marble of the bank’s floor on my bare knees. My warm hands hid my face like a game of pee-pie with a toddler, but the threat standing over me yelled orders and shook a black handgun at us both. The lady next to me whimpered in her weed-pulling stance and seemed sure of waking up dead tomorrow. I knew she was no help.

Not content to only yell at us, the robber poked me on the head with the nose of the gun barrel. It hit me hard and I began to think the lady next to me was right. But his yelling began to fade because of the focus taking over my mind, like a Times Square ticker you have to read to the end: “Whether I live or die, I belong to the Lord” (from Romans 14:8). I followed the words as they trotted through my head, over and over, bringing a breath, finally, and sending my fear and the man’s screams farther and farther away.

Slowly I peeked through the cracks between my fingers, and what I saw allowed me to drop my hands and defy the grip terror had on my heart. Jesus stood before me, too far away to touch but close enough to feel. His eyes rested on me the whole time, and I could tell He was unafraid of anything, and He wanted to give that gift to me.

He smiled at me, directly at me, and without a word, He said He was still in control, loved me without condition, and brings His peace—unmatched and all I need no matter what threat is poking me in the head. Maybe the robber saw Him, too, because he seemed aggravated but unable to do anything about it. He hurried away, leaving me and the lady there on the floor. After I woke up, I wondered what she had seen.

Read below or download the study of Joseph for yourself or your group.

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