The Thing We Expected, The Thing That Surprised Us.

English: Baby Moses rescued from the Nile
Image via Wikipedia

Things aren’t always easy.  In fact, there’s times when it feels like God goes out of his way to make things tough.  Some of this, I suppose, is related to the idea that it isn’t really faith if we have it in something we can see.  It only counts as faith if it’s something we have to trust, something we have to believe.

This isn’t easy.  In fact, some times it sucks.  But maybe this challenge is what it makes it all worth it.  We’re invited into an act of courage.  We’re given the oppurtunity to grow.  We’re offered a chance to show our willingness to risk it all.

Last post, I spent some time on the idea that Jesus, on some levels, seems like just the exact opposite of what the Hebrews would have been comfortable with.  In some ways, he seems almost specifically design to put the 1st-century Jews way outside of their comfort zones.

And yet…

And yet, in some deep way, Jesus so perfectally fits the pattern.  Numerous times, the bible tells these stories.  About how people waited.  and then waited some more.  They waited so long that they almost gave up hope.

And then God entered the world.  He does it, time and time again, in these mind-blowing ways.  Bigger, wilder, crazier than anybody would have expected.  He doesn’t just shoot off a couple miracles like Harry Potter trying out some new spell.  He enters into the world in ways that leave everybody’s jaw on the floor.  “God did what?  God did it how?”

Moses built and built at the Arc.  For hundreds of years.  Lots has been hypothesized about what it must have been like for him.  Bill Cosby even built a whole comedian around it, gazillions of years ago.  At the bare minimum, he lived in a desert and they had rarely seen much in the way of water.  Some go so far as to say that it had never rained before in all of history. 

And year in and year out. Moses builds the ark.  The rain begins to fall.  God himself closes the ark door.  He watches over Noah, and his family, and the animals.  He meets with Noah, promises him leadership over the Earth, and protection from future floods.

Then there are folks like Israel and Jacob.  And then their is Moses himself.  Moses pops up after the Israelis have been enslaved for hundreds of years.  They are victims to infanticide.  Mosses survives by only the strangest of circumstnaces.  God leads Moses, and his great power makes a mockery of the world’s preeminent empire of the time.  First all the Egyptian first born children and livestock are killed.  Then God pulls aside the waters of a great sea.  He waits for his chosen people to pass.  And then he allows the waters to rush back in, sending the Egyptians to their deaths.

David experiences waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and then God cames in BAM!  leading him to leadership over his people.  To varying extents Elijah and Elishah wait, and wait, and wait, and wait, and then God enters the world again, entering the world just as surely as he had before, and yet each time it is so very different.

Jesus’ time is not so different than Moses’.  God’s chosen people are enslaved to the world’s superpower.  Infanticide is practiced to bring the Jewish population down.  In both cases, the Jews have waited for deliverance for centuries.  In both cases, salvation comes from the most unlikely of places, from a man whose earthly parents are in many ways just so run of the mill.  

God enters the world of Jesus in a way mightier than ever before.  He isn’t just guiding the human… he is the human.   And yet, somehow, he is not, too.

If I were to write a symphony depicting the story of scripture, I would have this theme for God’s entery into the world.  It would be this progression of notes. 

Perhaps this theme would play on a few woodwinds for Noah.  Perhaps the same few notes on brass when it comes time for Moses.  Maybe it would be strings when Joseph, or Elishah came around.

But when Jesus comes?  When Jesus comes, I would have all the instruments rise up, together, in the same progression of notes.  I would invite all the musicians, all the players.  The little, fleeting moments before when we heard those notes, they would be nothing but a shadow before the real thing, nothing but a tiny little fore-echo.  And when Jesus comes, it would be like we hear this for the first time in the glory the notes were meant to carry; we hear it for the first time, and yet with out knowing it, we were waiting for it from the very beginning.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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