“...and I was dying for some freedom
but now I hesitate to go.
I am caught between the promise
and the things I know...”
I'm sure it's no surprise, but I really love Sara Groves’ “Painting Pictures of Egypt.” It has been especially meaningful, for me, this summer. Particularly a in connection with our camp inspirational theme, Mary Baker Eddy's call to action: ""Every step of progress, is a step more spiritual."
Every step...really? Sometimes I don't know if this is a promise, or a dare!
But, since I long for my steps to be "more spiritual," I'm taking it as both. And in light of my need for clear shepherding in these "steps more spiritual," I've been immensely grateful for Biblical role models, as I respond to this urging.
And this summer it's been a lot of "me n' Moses" time.
Yep, I’ve taken up residence in the desert...pitching my tent and inhabiting the Biblical account of his encounter with the burning bush...again.
This is not a new place for me to hang out...or a new spiritual mentor. I really love this guy. I seem to get caught up in his story on a regular basis. Insights and lessons around every rock. And I always come away with another “aha!” from our time time together...whenever I am willing to wander in the wilderness with him. Bare feet on holy ground, angels speaking out of the fire, and then there's always Emily Dickinson’s:
"Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush
afire with God,
But only he who sees
takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and
Ahhh, I ask you: "how rich with spiritual metaphor can one story be...."
It never seems to get old. Year after year, this story feeds me like forty years of manna in the wilderness.
There was that summer, some years ago, when I realized that “I AM,” is the only name that God gives Himself. Reading this story, it became so clear to me that if I was thinking in the context of “I was,” or “I will be,” I was not thinking out from the presence of God, as “I AM.” The "here" (as in I am present with you), and the "now" (as in to "stay in the present" tense...not the past or future) This was a paradigm-shattering insight at the time, and has continued to be foundational to my understanding of being.
And then there was the summer of the environmentally-conscious Sunday School student. A boy who helped me see that the burning bush ...which was not consumed...was a precedent-setting case of Biblical law for energy production without the consumption of resources. It was immediately clear to him, upon hearing the story, that Moses was able to see that the bush was burning...therefore it was putting off light and/or heat...but was not being consumed in the process. And without the consumption of the bush, there would be no waste byproduct...in this case smoke, or carbon emissions...to negatively impact the environment.
But this summer it was a question posed by a tired camp counselor, that has had me immersed in this story once again.
She asked, “how do you pray about exhaustion?”
Well, not surprisingly, it was this timeless story that immediately came to mind. So, I shared with her the Sunday School insight related above, and told her how helpful it had been to me in thinking about my own energy. I could expect to function efficiently without the consumption of my resources – strength, inspiration, alertness, creativity, humility, grace, etc. – and therefore no exhaustion...the waste by-product of resource consumption.
Exhaust, I reminded her, was the stuff that comes out of the back of a car...it is a waste, and it stinks. To say, “I am exhausted,” is a waste of your time, and it stinks!!
But as I was reading the story again, I saw how it all tied together:
Moses had a pretty good life as Zipporah’s husband. After the emotionally devastating discovery about his identity: "sorry Moses, you aren't a really a prince of Egypt, you are actually the son of a Hebrew slave," a traumatic exit from Egypt, and a long journey through the desert, he had finally found a legitimate place within a family. He had a good job, and seemed content. He spent his days tending sheep for his father-in-law.
But God has another plan for him. He is going to be asked to journey back to Egypt, face his identity crisis head on, go toe-to-toe with his former “brother,” try to convince the Hebrews he once participated in enslaving to trust him to deliver them from bondage, encourage them to follow him without question, handle the logistics of getting them out of Dodge, and then make another long journey through the desert with thousands of men, women, and children safely in tow, arriving at an undesignated "promised land."
That’s one pretty daunting, tiring, and exhausting assignment.
So, God gives Moses this “sign." He shows him that there can be a tireless source of energy...one that doesn't run out, doesn't produce exhaust, and results in no waste.
A brilliant example of God’s love, and His prescience...his foreknowledge of what His child will need in order to carry out this holy purpose.
And it is this “sign” stops Moses in his tracks. He “gets it.” It humbles him to the point that he takes off his shoes...a sign of surrender to a higher authority.
When the plan is laid out, Moses asks “how,” and God says, “I will be with thee.”
When Moses asks why should they believe me, God tells him to say, “I AM hath sent me unto you.” Now, the only reference to “I AM” that the children of Israel would have, would be their own conscious sense of being, their innate hunger to be free...they’d never read the book of Exodus, and Moses’ conversation with God.
But these two reminders: that God is with us in every task, and that the “I AM,” of being...not the I was, or I will be...is there, at all times, to deliver us from enslavement, from the consumption of our resources, from the waste of our time, and from exhaustion...is as effective today as it was centuries ago. Biblical precedence I can rest my case on throughout the day, in every activity, and with every "step more spiritual."
When I know that God is with me, that I will always have the infinite well of divine Being to drawn upon for inspiration, insights, ideas, solutions, strength, creativity, then I am not afraid to approach even the most daunting task with courage and confidence.
And when I remember to stay in the “I AM” of the moment -- the only place that God is -- refusing to be distracted by the haunting strains of remembering what I left behind in Egypt’s past, or the lured into imagining what it might be like in the promise land of the future...I cannot be consumed, or exhausted.
Mary Baker Eddy, gives us such sweet, and practical, encouragement when she says;
"God rests in action. Imparting has not impoverished, can never impoverish, the divine Mind. No exhaustion follows the action of this Mind, according to the apprehension of divine Science. The highest and sweetest rest, even from a human standpoint, is in holy work."
"Goodness and benevolence never tire.
They maintain themselves and others
and never stop from exhaustion."
I love these promises. and I love this story...I can’t wait to discover it’s next lesson...
Monday, August 20, 2012
“...and I was dying for some freedom