File Under "Rejoicing, Reasons for"


And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the LORD had done to Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians. Exodus 18:9

Long have I languished in the land of the desert. It is no surprise that the land has long been barren and dry. Sin is a place of innumerable mirages but absolutely no oases. Sin is like stepping off the face of the Earth and walking on the surface of the moon--not only is there no water, but it is cold, and dry, and dusty, and there is no air. And yet, with the bountiful creativity infused in us through by our most generous Father, I have the capacity to set up my easel and paint landscapes of lushness in the midst of pockmarks in emptiness. Every human being has the capacity to see exactly what she or he desires to see when it comes to holding ourselves back from the most important action there is.

But spend a while on this barren moon--feel the intense heat and cold; the waterless waste, try getting real nutrition at the mirage of an oasis. After a while, you'll sense the hollow echo, you'll feel the emptiness of the gestures. When this begins to happen, grace is moving to shake the scales from our eyes that we might see clearly.

In what do we rejoice? I have wandered long and far through the desert. I have served the cruelest, most relentless of all taskmasters--myself. I have been a servant to one alone--me. And the more I serve, the more I wished to be served. The appetite is insatiable.

But sitting at this juncture in history, I know well that I am not bound here. I have been delivered. I have been called out of Egypt and into the holy land. With a surety that fills me completely, I know I can leave. God has redeemed me from slavery--I can choose to depart from the tyrant-taskmaster self. But, as with the people of Israel, as I wander through the trackless desert, the vast wasteland between, I long for the time of rich and varied foods. I will go back to making my bricks without straw. Unless. . .

I take the time to rejoice in God's goodness to me. How many ways has He taken pains to guide me to Himself? How many ways has He told me He loves me? I look into the face of my son and I see a gift so long waited for, so long desired, so gracefully and wantonly given. My Father is profligate in the signs of His love. If I open my eyes, He says He loves me every day. In the people I encounter, in the beauty all around me, in the simple tasks of the day. God gives me rewarding work, He sends me His people--in need and supplying need, "my cup overflows."

Daily, or hourly, if we take a moment, we can see His actions in the things around us. And when we see it, one might hope that our reaction might be as Hopkins's:

" Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings."

In that second line, "Ah!" breaks the line and signals an intake of breath, finally I breathe again in His presence. Too long I have held my breath, apparently not trusting that there would be another breath to take (for in my world of sin, the only air is the breath I hold in my lungs). In my small world everything is limited. In God's everything is unlimited. I can turn and gasp and see how the Holy Spirit broods over the bent world, breathing upon it and moving things in the way they should go. I breathe the breath of the Spirit and become a new creation. I am blessed for a moment with a vision of the way things really are. Then I return to what I can see around me--the signs of His presence.

I rejoice and am thankful for these signs. I rejoice when I look how far I have been carried, though long stretches still seem to dominate the vision before me. The Father has brought me long and far, even though, like a small child I will insist on being put down and allowed to do my own thing. And like any small child, my own thing consists of trying to get away from Daddy. And He will allow this for a time before he swoops down upon me with a cry of joy and takes me back into His arms, and the two of us laugh together at the great game.

Rejoice then in the Father who loves us enough to allow us our freedom, but who cares enough always to gather us back in. Look at Him and see a face so beautiful, you will wonder how you could ever look away.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 15, 2005 7:36 AM.

Important Days was the previous entry in this blog.

Holiness--"A People Set Apart" is the next entry in this blog.

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