Daily Devotion - Friday, February 12, 2016
6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. 7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.’”
9 Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor. - Exodus 6:6-9
It's been a hectic week. I'm in the middle of moving, and the house I'm moving into is also being remodeled. Almost all our worldly belongings are in boxes, and there are a hundred things that need doing before the movers arrive on Saturday to shuttle over all the furniture.
On top of everything, both Merideth and I are busier than we've ever been in our respective jobs, and community obligations. Plus, our son Jackson just made the baseball team and is also in the school play, which has meant a lot of schedule-juggling and coordinating this week. And we have a five year-old and a new puppy, both of whom need a lot of supervision.
This week I've also added a memorial service for a member who passed away, visitation, counseling, probably 500 emails a day... the list goes on and on.
Someone, who was attempting to encourage me the other day, told me, "Just imagine what it will be like when you're all done, all moved in and all of this is over with!" I nodded and smiled, and mumbled something like, "Yes, I know it's going to be great."
But honestly, all I could think about in the moment was all of the things I had to do, the things that weren't getting done and all the things that might have to get done that I didn't yet know needed to be done. I was having a really hard time envisioning a future that was bright, shiny and completely free of cardboard boxes, and scheduling demands.
When I read the Lenten lectionary reading today from Exodus, I was struck by this passage. Actually, it landed on me like a ton of bricks.
God tells Moses to tell the people of Israel--people who have been slaves for 400 years--that God will free them from slavery, protect them, guide them and lead them to their own land. God casts a vision of a hope-filled future that is free from the day-to-day, nonstop labor that the Hebrew people are enduring in the present.
So, Moses goes to the people and shares this incredible vision, but the Hebrew people don't listen to him. They don't listen because, "of their discouragement and harsh labor." Their reality was nothing but a grindstone, putting one plodding foot in front of the other. They couldn't see past their present difficulties to the new day that was about to dawn.
I can't tell you how many times in my life I have lost my sense of hope because I was too mired in busyness, worry, mundanity, the cares of life--you name it. Maybe you are feeling that way today. Maybe you've become consumed by discouragement. Or you might be feeling absolutely overwhelmed. Perhaps you are so busy that you don't even have time to breathe. I get it.
Hear the words of the God from today's passage... "I am the Lord..." "I will free you..." "I will redeem you..." "I will take you..." "I will bring you..." "I will give to you..." "I am the Lord..." God is with you. God is beside you. God is all around you and in you. You don't have to fear, you don't have to worry, you don't have to feel overwhelmed or discouraged. The Lord, the Almighty God, who created heaven and earth will cover you in his strength, and will lead you to a wondrous future.
May you live boldly in hope this day and let discouragement and care fall to the ground and be forgotten. May you hear the encouraging, life-giving, hope-filled words of God and let them pierce your heart and soul. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.