Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Word of God and the word of God to me

So, the day is dawning that I knew was coming.  But it still came with a jolt.  Don's job is ending in June.  He turns 70 in May.  Our net income will drop over 25%.  All three of those things are big. Nothing too fun about getting older or "poorer".

I find that as long as I continue to read the Bible and books on spirituality, and talk with fellow Christians, God continues to reveal Himself to me and reveal myself to myself. Mostly Don and I have been happy about our choices of working part-time over the last 25 years. In an age where it seems like "everyone" says you need two incomes to live, we have defied that and thrived.  We are soon to start the "how much money do you need to retire" phase of life. What is going to happen to us now? Will we just survive, which I am sure of, or will we thrive, which I am not sure of?  Enter the scripture reading for the week from Exodus and Matthew.

In Exodus 1 human fear and the fear of God are on display.  

6Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation.But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them. Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” 11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. 13 So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves 14 and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves. 15 Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16 “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” 17 But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. 18 So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” 19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” 20 So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. 22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrew you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”
It doesn't take too much of a leap from the text to realize that the new king feared what would happen if the Israelites, who outnumbered the Egyptians, joined up with enemies of Egypt.  Out of that fear, the new king (Pharaoh) decreed that the midwives were to kill the male children born to the Israelites.  

Fear can sometimes lead one to do desperate things, even sinful things. As Don and I begin this new unknown, are we going to press into it with fear?  Are we going to lose sleep over it and frantically try to figure out a solution?  

Compare Pharoah's fear and knee-jerk and tragic response to his fear with the response of the midwives.  The text says that they feared the Lord and did not do as they were commanded.  They could have been killed for not obeying.  Instead they lied about the reason the Hebrew baby boys were living.  And what did God do for the midwives for their God-fearing obedience, which also involved lying?  He blessed them by opening their barren wombs.  

Will Don and I trust God in our new circumstances-circumstances which are a direct result of choices we made a quarter of a century ago?  Will we believe God? Will we believe verses like "Do not fret, it only causes harm?"  Or, this section of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew:

6:25 I tell you not to worry about your life. Don’t worry about having something to eat, drink, or wear. Isn’t life more than food or clothing? 26 Look at the birds in the sky! They don’t plant or harvest. They don’t even store grain in barns. Yet your Father in heaven takes care of them. Aren’t you worth more than birds?
27 Can worry make you live longer?[e] 28 Why worry about clothes? Look how the wild flowers grow. They don’t work hard to make their clothes. 29 But I tell you that Solomon with all his wealth[f] wasn’t as well clothed as one of them. 30 God gives such beauty to everything that grows in the fields, even though it is here today and thrown into a fire tomorrow. He will surely do even more for you! Why do you have such little faith?
31 Don’t worry and ask yourselves, “Will we have anything to eat? Will we have anything to drink? Will we have any clothes to wear?” 32 Only people who don’t know God are always worrying about such things. Your Father in heaven knows that you need all of these. 33 But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.

 In Exodus 2 God is shown not only to be a saviour but a super saviour.

Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him. Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews' children.” Then his sister said to Pharaoh's daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, “Go.” So the girl went and called the child's mother. And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water."
When we think of the story of baby Moses most minds go to the idea that Moses was saved by someone as he floated down the Nile River in a basket.  That in itself is a miracle because so many of the baby boys were being killed off at the decree of Pharoah.  But there are many more providences in this story.  Not only did God save Moses by having him plucked from the water, he upped that miracle big time.  All of these actions came into play: Moses mother was able to hide her baby for months.  When he could not longer be hidden she was able to make a water-tight compartment, place the baby in it so it could float down the river.  She had to know it might tip over.  She was able to send her daughter to keep an eye on the basket.  Of all the people bathing in the river, the Pharoah's daughter was the one to find the basket.  Upon seeing that the baby was a Hebrew baby she could have just drowned him right there as I'm sure her father would have wanted her to do.  No, instead she took pity on him.  Moses' sister had the presence of mind to suggest finding a Hebrew mother to nurse him.  I'm sure there were some Egyptian women the Pharoah's daughter knew who could have served as a wetnurse.  Moses' own mother got to raise him at least until he was weaned and then Moses got to be raised in affluence.  Lots of amazing circumstances all coming together at one time, wouldn't you say?

So, how should Don and I respond to any anxiety at this time?  If a story containing so many amazing providences don't speak to us in our current need, what will?

In Matthew 8 and 9 people respond to Jesus and His power in two diametrically opposed ways.

8:28 And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. 29 And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” 30 Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. 31 And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” 32 And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. 33 The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men.34 And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.

9:20 And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, 21 for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” 22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. 
In the story of the the demon-possessed men, the people of the town choose to be fearful and send Jesus away from their area...most likely because they were looking at the herd of pigs that rushed over a cliff.  Maybe they feared a similar loss of income if they let Jesus near them.  I have no idea.  Why didn't they look at the marvelous thing Jesus did in healing these men?  Again I have no idea.  Note to self:  Look for the good in circumstances, not necessarily how a circumstance might impact my life.

Notice the reaction of the woman in the second story.  She has heard of Jesus the healer and she can't get near enough to Jesus fast enough.  

Can Don and I be open to whatever God has for us, even if it means some of our desires for retirement get pushed over the cliff?  Will we want to draw near to God and touch his hem or will we begin to accuse God and tell Him to leave us alone?  

Only time will tell.

Last day of work is in three months - June 29th.  Stay tuned for the rest of the story.

No comments:

Post a Comment