Friday, September 09, 2011

::NUMBERS 20: Moving Him from His Place::

"The people would not know God unless Moses and Aaron accurately represented Him. . . The LORD had in mind a gentle miracle for the people this time-- a hard rock yielding to a mere word. . . God had spoken to Moses softly and graciously , but when Moses spoke to the people, it was loudly and angrily. . . Moses was so angry that he raised his arm and smashed the rock with his staff twice. . . They had water, but they did not have the real gift that God intended for them that day. . . " ~Nancy Ganz "Numbers"

I read the account of Moses above and I empathize sharply with his fall from grace. I feel the searing pain of being stripped of pride. I taste the bitterness of being made "grind my teeth on the gravel" of rebuke. {Lamentations 3:16} I feel covered in the ashy mess of the fallout.

I have been brought low these past weeks by an awareness of sin in me. I always knew it was there, but never really looked it in the face-- grappled with it. I didn't really have to. It isn't the kind of sin that is worn on the outside. But it shapes motives and taints words. Right now it is all so painfully clear. I can see every contour of the ugliness of it, and how it plays out from day to day. And yet, the unlovely shadow-twin of mine was never held to account until now. Or was it?

. . . for he does not afflict from the heart or grieve the children of men. {Lamentations 3: 33}
He delights not in the death of sinners, or the disquiet of saints, but punishes with a kind of reluctance. He comes out of his place to punish, for his place is the mercy-seat.~Matthew Henry
Mercy is my God's first inclination. And, yes, I look back and see that as Truth. I can trace the sites of minor wreckages winding through my early life. Small things at first: A steering-providence, weaving me away from a longed-for thing. A Divine "No" to a selfish desire for "Yes." Little, stinging revelations of what my heart is capable of.

And then, after lessons unlearned, I can see how God moved from his place to address his daughter. His hand directed more painful events, through more public means to open my eyes. Poor choices, with humiliating consequences. Unveiled rejection and shame. I learned how to make good use of my pain, but I didn't learn to sit in the ashes just yet. I preferred to play the part of victim. And so, with eyes only half-open to my sin my God moved from his place to startle them wide.

Now I see. I see what He was after from the start. He always and ever intended for me to be empty. For me to be useable. The architecture of my life has been laid out to remind me. Even the craftsmanship of my body is a message from Him. The people in orbit around me reflect his desires for me.

It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. {Lamentations 3: 27}

Young, brazen oxen are not much use to a farmer who needs his field ploughed. What use have I been, stubbornly ploughing my own uneven lines in soil, sewing so very little seed. When patiently he waits to use me to break and bow. To be available for so much more. I have laboured over you, daughter. I have been moving over you all along. If your mouth is full of dust, and your clothes are streaked with ash, rejoice! You are being made beautiful. Be broken of your cravings for sweet, useless things. Lesser things. My words are sweet. Taste them only. They are a taste of the greater things to come.