Monday, March 17, 2008

Amber told me I’m hyper. Hyper for me or hyper for Amber or just hyper in general? Hyper because I called her talking in a weird voice, and when she knew who it was, offered to hang up and try again? Hyper because I followed every comment she made with some wise crack? Hyper because I gave her an elaborate description of my day, complete with endless details on the glories of budgeting? “Together Mom and I labored over the reconciliation.” She misunderstood me. “Reconciliation? Wait. Did you and your mom fight? I don’t believe it.”

So much for the valley. Instead the Lord has been leading me alongside a rim, close enough that sometimes my feet dislodge a pebble and send it clattering to the floor far below, but He has my hand and I am safe on high. I feel as if I’ve been walking on air, gazing down into the valley, but never falling, gazing up into His face and seeing His love spelled out there in great tenderness. Every fear that rises in my heart, every worry or doubt that springs up is melted by His goodness. Each time I think I’ve lost His hold and might tumble, I’ve called His name and He’s been there, upholding me with His righteous right hand.

I finished Numbers. (“Can you count now?” Amber demanded, in her best Abigail imitation.) As He sent them into the promised land under the leadership of Moses’ prodigy, Joshua, God warned His people that if they failed to completely destroy the wicked nations living in the land and wipe out their heathen religions, He would have to rain down their punishment on the Israelites. I see that in our homes and our churches—if we embrace the idols of the world, we are likely to bear their shame and consequences with them. “Come out and be separate,” says Yahweh. “Touch no unclean thing.”

When Israel conquered a foreign kingdom, Yahweh told them how to redeem the plunder. “Pass everything that can stand fire through fire, then purify it with water, and whatever cannot stand fire, pass through the water, and it shall be purified.” Later, Yahweh spoke through the prophet Isaiah, using the same beautiful symbolism to describe how He would buy back His people from captivity. “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am Yahweh, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” To me, the words ring out with hope—I have been redeemed from the world, bought by the Savior and made holy through His precious blood. When He leads through testing or trials—fire and water—He will be with me, as He leads me in the path to purification. I will never be overwhelmed. Only cleansed. Made holy. Like Yahweh.

Lord, when fiery ways I trod,
Beside me, Thou, the Son of God,
The fiery furnace Thou wilt bear
And always show me Thou art there.

And when my way lies through the water,
Thou reminds this frightened daughter,
Once Thou parted such a sea
And safely o’er Thou’ll carry me.

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