May 10, 2020
The following is one of my life scriptures – scriptures proclaimed to a people in exile on the cusp of freedom once more. If you notice, it doesn’t say the people won’t have challenges but that they will endure and become stronger in the presence of God.
Isaiah 43:1-3a, 18-21 (NRSV)
But now thus says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild animals will honor Me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to My chosen people, the people whom I formed for Myself so that they might declare My praise.
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I also came across a poem by Rumi, a 13-century Persian poet, faqih, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic, which I found particularly insightful as we die to what was and enter into the quiet preceding God’s time of new life and new beginnings. I am also reminded of the Psalmist’s admonition (Psalm 46:10) and Paul’s letter to the Galatians as well (Galatians 2:19-20). We are indeed a global community as we listen to all these words!
Inside this new love, die.
Your way begins on the other side.
Become the sky.
Take an axe to the prison wall.
Walk out like someone suddenly born into
Do it now.
You are covered with thick cloud.
Slide out the side. Die,
and be quiet. Quietness is the surest sign
that you have died.
Your old life was a frantic running
The speechless full moon
comes out now.
Holy and Eternal God, we know that You are always with us, but sometimes this is a truth that is so hard to remember. When things get hard in our lives, we so often jump right in to fix things and try to make sense of things so that we won’t be anxious and afraid. We know that, though You don’t cause all the circumstances we experience in our lives, You will in fact redeem them and use them for our empowerment in the future, if we will just be quiet and be brave enough to let go of the past and claim Your future. Help us to be still, to pray, to reflect on what has been, to process what is, and to listen for what good might come of our current challenge. Make us wise enough to know that whatever solution awaits – it will be grounded in love of You and sacrificial love of others – it is in the name of Christ, we pray. AMEN.