OT: Numbers 11:24-13:33
Okay, it's time for a "brain" break; it's time to go with "heart" for a day. So I'm not going to try to do justice to these passages by covering them thoroughly and deeply. Instead, I'm just going to highlight the little things that struck me today.
But first, I'll let you know the questions that I decided not to ponder (though I wanted to):
--Why did God change His punishment plan with the quail and strike them with a plague on top of it?
--Why did He punish Miriam so much more harshly than Aaron?
--And, in general, why was God so mean to all of them?
--And why did Moses throw in that much-ballyhooed aside that he was the most humble man on earth?:)
Okay, now onto what struck me today:
"But this is not true of my servant Moses;
he is faithful in all my house.
With him I speak face to face,
clearly and not in riddles;
he sees the form of the Lord." (12:7-8a)
I love this statement because it is a clear acknowledgment from God that He usually does not speak clearly, and that He tends to use riddles! His communication with Moses is an exception to His normal practice. Thank You! I'm glad to hear that said aloud! So much about God, as I've noted, seems to be shrouded in mystery, a mystery that He seems to clearly cultivate. He tells us what we need to know, but we have to really dig to get to know Him the way we long to....and the way He longs for us to. I can kind of understand the reason behind it...but it is still just comforting to hear God acknowledge on some level that He is confusing:). At least, that was my interpretation of His statement:).
NT: Mark 14:22-52
Do you want to know what I got from this passage? (I'm sure you are on the edge of your seat:).)
Today, I had a hard time focusing, and had to stop several times to pray, but when I got to the verses that God wanted me to hear, they came blaring into my ears loud and clear:
"He took Peter, James, and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 'My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,' he said to them. 'Stay here and keep watch.'"
Ta-da! Yes, cheerful, I know. Here's the thing: lately, I have been struck by the difference in fear-level between the OT and the NT. In the OT, you see people begging for their lives quite a bit. David is the prime example, as he regularly grovels with lines like, "Spare my life, my precious life." In the NT, a funny thing happens: the begging stops. And when I see the members of the early church, they just seem SO BRAVE to me! They rejoice in their sufferings; they don't fear death. If anything, they seem to welcome it! Peter and the apostles rejoice that they are counted worthy of being flogged in Acts 5; Stephen prays for forgiveness for the people who are about to stone him in Acts 7; Paul declares, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain," in Philippians 1. And it seems that all these Christians march boldly off to their death without a thought or care in the world during the persecution.
And I want to be like that. I believe that God is in control of all things. I believe Paul's words that "to live is Christ and to die is gain." I believe that God loves me and always wants the best for me. I believe that no matter what happens in this life that God is with me. I get it. I do. And yet...I still fear. It's not a crippling thing or a constant feeling, but I don't want to fear at all. Ever. But when I think of horrible things happening to my children, or of other devastating hardships, I still shudder. It's like, I am on board intellectually, but not emotionally. Because, to be honest, I don't want to suffer! I don't want my children to suffer! I just don't. As Jesus himself said in our passage today, "The spirit is willing but the body is weak."
And today, I found such odd comfort in the fact that Jesus didn't want to suffer, either. He was deeply distressed and filled with sorrow at the prospect. So...it can't be wrong, can it? I do have faith in God--really! I feel full of faith right now:). But daggone it...I just don't want it to happen. Like Jesus, I can say, "Your will be done," but I can't promise their won't be weeping and "sweat drops of blood" through the process. I can't say that I won't quake beforehand. And you know what? Maybe the early Christians did, too. They did flee from persecution, you know. Maybe Peter was shaking like a leaf as he was led to be crucified. Maybe Stephen spent a sleepless night in torment before his death. Maybe they were all terrified. But maybe the important thing is not that we have no fear or dread, but that we trust God to be with us no matter what happens.
And that was my thought for today.
Yay for my 5th-6th grade Wednesday night class! We read the story of Doeg, on whom this psalm is based. So I will now recap it for you: David was fleeing from Saul, and he went to a priest, Ahimelech, to get some food. David kinda deceived him, as Ahimelech thought David was still in Saul's service. David convinced the priest to give him some of the consecrated bread for him and his men to eat (Jesus later cites this passage to the Philistines), and the priest gives David Goliath's sword, which I thought was pretty cool. Anyhow, Doeg sees the whole interchange, and ends up reporting it to Saul. It's funny to me, then, that David talks about Doeg lying throughout the psalm, b/c I'm pretty sure that Doeg was truthful. He was just a tattletale:). But it gets worse b/c even after Ahimelech explains that he had no idea that David was a fugitive, Saul still orders someone to kill Ahimelech and his family. No one will, though, probably b/c it's such a jerk thing to do. And so Doeg volunteers, and then goes and kills not only the priest and his family, but also the whole town. So he's not really a cool guy. Hence the psalm.
"When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom" (2). I so want to be a humble person, not because I fear disgrace as much as because I really want wisdom. Sometimes I feel like a toddler in the faith, instead of the 19-year-old Christian that I am. I guess the only good thing is that toddlers are teachable!:) And I know I have a lot to learn!