Holding God To It

“So the LORD changed his mind about the terrible disaster he had threatened to bring on his people.” (ex. 32:14)

This morning I wake up with a restless spirit. “Where are you this morning, Lord?” is my honest question.

Well into my second cup of coffee, the words I locate for how I feel are “deep longing”. Deep longing for all that’s wrong to be made right, and that’s a big ALL these days. At least it sure feels that way. Sheltering in place grows so old and painful, like the frost-bite on my finger tips as I walk the dog. We have a virus with creative pension for varied mutations, as if it’s angry and wants to hurt and kill as many of us as possible. Meanwhile, so many are suffering devastating losses of life, of vocation, of hope for the future. words and images of insurrection fill our national landscape. Trials ensue. Issues of safety are real for so many, and for many, with all kinds of different perspectives, the future of our democracy is in doubt. Our anger with each other is disturbingly normative around every social issue imaginable. Our most treasured relationships with family and friends are strained if we’re fortunate, and fractured in so many cases.

I feel this morning like I want to hold God to God’s own promises…I will be your God, and you will be my people…I will never leave you or forsake you….I am the shade at your right hand, the sun shall not strike you by day nor the moon by night….come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest…nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.. It’s all so good, such good news, so comforting, yet there are days when those promises along with the presence of God seem so distant to all of our pain and suffering.

I know, I know it’s haughty to think and feel and say such things. I know that the sufferings we endure are largely of our own doing and not God’s doing. But sometimes it’s important to just be honest. This is why I find the little story of the Golden Calf being built at the base of mount Sinai so weirdly comforting. Check it out — Exodus 32. While God is ordering life ahead for Israel with Moses up on top, down below the people become bored and intrigued with making a golden calf to put their hope in in the meantime. God is angry, really angry with what they have done: “Now leave me alone so my fierce anger can blame against them, and I will destroy them.” But Moses stands toe to toe with God, quite a courageous thing. He reminds God of God’s promises: “Turn away from your fierce anger. Change your mind about this terrible disaster you have threatened against your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You bound yourself to them with an oath to them saying, I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven. I will give them all of this land that I have promised to your descendants.”

And God changed his mind.

Even though all of the chaos at the bottom of the mountain was not God’s doing, Grace abounded. Mercy won the day. God stuck to God’s promises, with the prodding of Moses, who was surely shaking in his boots. wait. He had no boots, he was on holy ground and taken them off. You know what I mean.

It’s a scary proposition to take God on, to hold God to holy promises. But we are allowed to do so when we feel the need, when we wake up with that restless spirit, that deep longing that wants God to come and act, come and heal, come and bring order to our chaos.

That’s where I am this morning. “Remember, dear God, remember your promises, and bring life, and not death, to your creation you have redeemed.”

Peace on your journey. It’s ok to hold God to his promises. God is up to the task!

Peter Hawkinson

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