We are no different from Israel. Not really.
And so, we can see ourselves pretty clearly in Isaiah 30:
Yes, we too are stubborn.
Yes, we are so very good at making plans that are not your plans, God.
Not necessarily to Egypt, but to many places we go, without asking for your direction.
We seek refuge, but not in you, O God. In bank accounts, in job security, in alcohol, in food, in so many things, but not in you, when we are told so clearly in Psalm 46:1 (it doesn’t get any clearer than this), that you are our refuge. And you alone.
And, the result is this: Shame and disgrace ~
We, on this Pentecost Sunday (so much buzz about this day, this year, when I’ve never even heard of Pentecost Sunday before), recognize that after you ascended, you gave us your spirit to dwell within us. But, sometimes, we do not sense you. We sense that we far from you. If seems as if we are praying to brass ceilings. It is then that we must turn to scripture, to be reminded that you are real, and near. That your truths and teachings and the things that prophesied were and are and will be truth. So, even here in admonition, we see that you knew we would need words in order to remember:
And we thank you for that, even though sometimes those words are hard to hear. Hard to read. Such as these:
therefore this iniquity shall be to you
like a breach in a high wall, bulging out, and about to collapse,
whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant;
14 and its breaking is like that of a potter’s vessel
that is smashed so ruthlessly
that among its fragments not a shard is found
with which to take fire from the hearth,
or to dip up water out of the cistern.
Sudden breaking, in an instant. Ruthless smashing, so that not even a shard is found big enough to provide an ember of light and warmth from the fire, or a cool drink of water from the cistern.
There is an alternative. An alternative to seeking refuge in that which cannot provide safety. An alternative to pursuing plans that are not yours. An alternative to stubborn rebellion that brings shame and disgrace.
The saving grace comes in the returning:
In returning, we are saved. In returning, there is rest. We are all, so very weary God. We are strength-less. I am strength-less, O God. It is interesting, that the strength that you speak of here, is not the strength of activity, but rather quietness. And trust. Some trust in chariots. Some trust in horses. Some trust in their intellectual ability; their powers of reasoning. Some trust in academia. Some trust in their 401K.
Some trust in themselves. Because, somehow, that seems safer.
But, that is often disastrous.
There is no rest or quietness in trusting self. In trusting self, there is frenetic activity designed to ensure safety. There is frenetic activity to save ourselves.
And, that is always disastrous.
Sometimes, God, we are unwilling, because of sinful pride.
Forgive us, God. Forgive me, God.
At first reading, I thought this meant that you hold back your graciousness toward us, but maybe that is wrong. Maybe…maybe it is more that you long to be gracious to us, therefore you are patient with us.
But you are also a God of justice; and there is waiting that we must do as well. And when we do, blessed are we.
Be merciful, God. Be patient. But also be a God of justice, because we need that as well.
And bless us, when we return. Bless us with salvation and rest and quietness and strength.
And, bless us with the ability to trust you.
For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. 20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.
Do not hide yourself from us. Let us see you.