What Now? (Moses’ Monologue)

What do I do now?  Pharaoh surely will find out what I’ve done.  If these two people heard about or maybe saw what I did the other day, word will get back to Thutmose.  Maybe he already knows I killed an Egyptian.  

I had no choice.  That Egyptian was whipping a man, yelling “Now, Jew, you’ll really have something to complain about.”  The man’s back was covered with bloody slashes.  Was I supposed to just walk away, pretend I didn’t see it? 

Even though Pharaoh’s daughter tells me she is my mother, I know that’s not true.  Some time ago a young woman, about my age, told me I am not an Egyptian, that I am a Jew just like her.  In fact, she told me she is my real sister, that her name is Miriam.  She looked a little bit like me and told me about my real mother and father.  So I am a Jew too.  Was I supposed to just walk away as one of my countrymen was being beaten to death?  Of course, I stepped in and killed the Egyptian.   But what do I do now?

Pharaoh has treated me like his son and given me great honors after I led our patriotic forces to victory against the Ethiopians.  He promised that after his death, I would be Pharaoh of all Egypt.  I was happy with that thought until my sister showed up and told me I am a Jew.  And I saw how the Jews were mistreated, working from morning until night with bricks building the great pyramids to honor all our Pharaohs.   

I no longer think of myself as an Egyptian and those pyramids are being built by the sweat and bloody deaths of my people.  How can I ever go back to living in the palace with Thutmose and his daughter?  And, even if I wanted to, they would not let me.  Egypt has been my country but if I don’t leave it, they will kill me too.  I killed an Egyptian.  I cannot live there.  I cannot live anywhere in Egypt. A life for a life they say.  

Where can I go?  I made my way to my real family’s house and my sister and brother said they would show me where I would be safe.  They talked about the land promised to our ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  It was the land God promised all Jews.  I agreed it would be a good place for me to go.

But then they told me that most Jews do not live there yet.  There were, however, some friendly people called Midianites who would help me.  Even if Pharaoh sent men after me, the they would fight for me.  I should stay there for a very long time, maybe the rest of my life because Pharaoh, like every Pharaoh before him, never forgives anyone.    

Posted in Adversity, Bible, Conflict, doubt, Faith, Family, Fear, Murder, Principles, Providence, Questioning, Trials | Leave a comment

The Loss of His Wife

The Bible is filled with many stories of ordinary people struggling with the challenges of life.  Sometimes they are manageable and people get through using their wits and abilities.  Other times, the challenges are like arrows that stab, exhaust and depress them.  For awhile, they believe they cannot possibly go on.  It is then, that they finally turn to God for strength to carry on.  

This is an embellishment of what the Jewish patriarch Jacob might have felt and thought as he struggled through grief at the death of Rachel, his only love.

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Here I sit and will never move again.  My clothes are torn just like my heart.  My Rachel is no more, my little lamb.  The mother of Joseph is not going to be here to see him grow up.  She died giving birth to our second son.  She named him “Ben Oni” (in my sadness), but I have named “Ben Yamin” (son of my  days).

My mind swirls around different memories of her. 

I remember when I first saw her by that well.  She was coming out to water her father’s sheep.  She walked slowly and carefully turning her head this way and that to make sure all the sheep were still with her. She was beautiful even from a distance. When I asked about her I was told her name was Rachel, the daughter of Laban.  

When I heard this, I ran over and kissed her.  I told her I was Rebekah’s son and that I was looking for her father, because I needed a place to stay.   When she heard that, she ran off without saying a word.  I wondered why,  but soon found out she had run to tell her father about me.  I can still see Laban’s smile when he met me on the way.  And I was so happy when he said I could stay with him. 

I remember how happy I felt because I was in love with Rachel.   Now I see Laban’s worried look when I said I wanted to marry her.  He told me I could but I would first have to work seven years for him.  I didn’t care. 

Ugh, there is Rachel’s sister Leah in my marriage bed the morning after the wedding.  She was laughing, but I was angry because Laban had deceived me.  I was angrier than I had ever been before.  I hated being tricked but Laban said it was not right that the younger daughter should marry before the older. If I truly wanted Rachel, He said I could have her if I worked another seven years for him. I remember how quickly the years passed and finally there she was on our wedding night.  She smiled and her beautiful eyes reflected the light of the single candle in our room. Finally, she was mine.  

Oh, but then the problems came.  Even  though I finally was married to Rachel, there was tension in our family.  Leah gave birth to many sons and Rachel could not.  Finally our son Joseph was born.  But by then there were so many boys from Leah and the maidservants Zilpa and Bilhah who had become proxy mothers in the jealous fight between Leah and Rachel.  What a mess!  Such a price to pay for Rachel!

Now I remember when I decided to go back home-if only I had known.  I was missing father and mother, hoping that my brother Esau had forgotten my tricking him out of father’s first born blessing.

It was a long trip and by then with so many sons, wives and sheep we were spread out for miles as we made our way slowly back to Beersheba

Rachel had thought she was strong enough to make the trip even though she was pregnant.  When we got near the town of Ephrath, she had stomach pains so strong we had to stop.  We put up our tents and she slowly made her way to ours and went inside.  Her servant Bilhah went with her, but I could not. All I could hear outside were her screams.  I tried to go in to help, but was told to keep out.

Finally, the screams stopped and I heard the cries of a little baby.  I decided to go in whether I was permitted or not.  And there was the baby and beautiful Rachel.  Only she wasn’t moving and her eyes were closed.  I looked at Bilhah and she just shook her head.  

After that, I can’t be sure what I did.  I think I screamed and some of the boys and Leah came running to the tent.  They looked at us.  I screamed and started ripping my clothes.  “She is gone.  My ewe lamb is gone and so is my heart. She has taken it away and I am nothing. 

I cannot face Esau now, but I must.  We’re not turning back.  

God of my father Isaac and grandfather Abraham, please help.  I feel so alone and empty. 

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And so Jacob joined the ranks of all married persons who have had to deal with the loss of their spouse.  

Posted in Aging, Anger, Bible, Choices, Conflict, Death, Depression, Disappointment, Family, Feelings, Fiction, Grief, Household, Loss, Memory, Perseverance, Sibling, Stress | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Calling Captain? Noah

I am old, but I still feel young and pretty good most days.  My name is Noah and the Lord has called me to build a boat which will carry two of every animal in the world.  Why me?

I have had this feeling that I am special for as long as I can remember.  Lamech, my father, told me that when I was born I lit up the room with my beautiful eyes, white hair and rosy colored skin.  Even then it seemed I had a special purpose, a strong connection with God which terrified my dad.

He told his dad, Methuselah, that I was way different from any other baby he had ever seen. I began to talk before I could even walk.  And I had dreams about animals that weren’t walking, but thrashing in great bodies of water.  The animals were always different, but the water was the same…great waves swirling up to the sky and crashing down on the animals causing them to sink.  Always, I was above the water looking down into its boiling blackness.

These dreams seemed to be the opposite of what my name means… “peace” While I was growing up, I learned that the people around us were cruel and sneaky.  Some of the boys tried to get me to take things that weren’t mine.  I knew that was wrong, but they thought it showed how smart I was, that I knew how to trick people who were stupid enough to be outsmarted by a boy. Still, I knew stealing was wrong and not pleasing to God.

I had not thought much about God until a little while ago.  I was standing by the shore of Adam’s Lake when I saw a toy boat someone had made.  It was a perfect model for a boat, with three floors to it, a side door entrance and eight windows on top of it.  It was just bobbing on the water.  No one was steering it or moving water to make it go.  It was all alone.  

I started to shiver and watched as it drifted away from me and finally was out of sight.

The next morning I decided I would like to build a small boat for myself.  I began scrounging around for gopher wood and pitch.  The only wood I found was much larger than I needed.  I thought to myself “all of these are much bigger pieces than I need.”  But then I heard a voice (or thought I heard a voice) tell me “this is exactly what you need. I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence.  You will build a giant boat for your family and all land animals.” 

“What?!”  I cried.  “I’m not a boat builder.  I can’t do that.  I’ve never even been on a boat.  Drowning ever person will certainly bring peace, but isn’t there a better way to bring peace to the world?

The Voice didn’t answer.  But the dreams kept coming to me every night, terrible dreams with black, crushing water tossing people and animals around for there was no land anywhere.  What did the dreams mean?  Were they showing me the future.  Finally, I saw my whole family, my sons and their wives tossed about in the violent waves.  Then, they disappeared.  I woke up, and fell on my knees, and just shook.  I was so scared I couldn’t even talk.  

My wife woke too and seeing me on my knees asked “what’s wrong?”

All I could do was mumble over and over “I have to do it.  I have to build this giant boat.  THE LORD wants me to build it.”

That morning at breakfast, I told my wife and my sons and their families what God wanted me to do. At first, my boys just laughed and said “you’re old and now you want to go to sea.  Besides, there is no sea anywhere around here.” 

I said “but there will be.”

After breakfast I took them to where I had gathered much wood.  They all looked at it and said “how big a boat is it going to be?”

I said “I can’t really say, but it’s going to be huge!” Then I told them why.

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What Is It?

What is this feeling I have?  It came to me again last night just before I closed my eyes.  The sounds outside the tent had made me sleepy, but then the feeling came again and my eyes wouldn’t close and my throat burned with thirst.

I kept imagining another land with palm trees and enough water for our herds.  I kept seeing this beautiful place and hearing the sound of children playing.  Sometimes I could even see their faces.  And not all are little, some are young men.  Some are beautiful women, wives for all those men.  Where is this place?  I must find out.

I have had these feelings for a long time.  Because of them, I talked my father and brothers to move from Ur to this place by the two rivers that meet.  Many people live here because there is much water for everyone.  

I thought after we moved here, the dreams would go away.  But they still keep coming.  What do they mean?

The people here talk about personal gods.  Everyone has their own god who helps them and even protects them.  They all have a special place where they light candles and sing songs to their god.  This is a new idea for me.  I don’t know why belief in a god would help them.

Tonight I will just relax and not think of any special lands.  I will pay attention to the rippling sounds of the river near my tent and let it put me to sleep.

The sleep felt good until I was awakened.  I listened but heard no sound.  Maybe the quiet was what woke me.   It was strange because I could not even hear the river.  How can that be?

Then I heard a voice “Abram, go out from your country and from your family and from your father’s house, into the land to which I will be your guide”

I wasn’t sure I had heard this right so I said “who are you and what did you say?”

The Voice told me I must leave my family and go to a place He would show me.  

I said I would go, but really didn’t think I would.  Who was it that spoke to me like that?  Why would I want to do what the voice said.

I tried to go back to sleep, but whether I was asleep or awake I don’t know because I just saw that same land I had been dreaming about and this time it was in color.  I never dream in color.   And that voice was even in my dream “Abram, go out from your country and from your family and from your father’s house, into the land to which I will be your guide”

What was all that?

In the morning, I sat by the fire and talked in my thoughts “Whoever you are, I can’t leave my father and my brother now.  Terah is an old man.  And my youngest brother has already died.  If I leave now, it will be too much for my dad.”  I said all these things out loud by the fire, not really knowing what I was doing.

Do I have a personal god too?  Does everyone?   Where is the land I keep dreaming about and who are all those people. 

Posted in Adaptability, Adventures, Aging, Belief, Bible, Commitment, Fathers and Sons, God, Providence, Tests, Trust | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Before Creation Care

I am in the habit of reading bits from “Institutes of the Christian Religion” by John Calvin whose careful use of words is noteworthy.  Here is a clip about God’s habit of showing in creation some of his nature.

…he divided the formation of the world into six days, though it had been in no respect more difficult to complete the whole work, in all its parts, in one moment than by a gradual progression. But he was pleased to display his providence and paternal care towards us in this, that before he formed man, he provided whatever he foresaw would be useful and salutary to him. How ungrateful, then, were it to doubt whether we are cared for by this most excellent Parent, who we see cared for us even before we were born! (Book 1, Chapter 14, Paragraph 22)

Some Thoughts on This

This before-creation care of God strikes me as logical and loving.  What would creation have been like if Adam and Eve were created and then a while later, plants for eating, trees for shading, animals for caring were created?  It reminds me of when I was in the Army.  The term I often heard was “hurry up and wait.”  When my company was shipping out from basic to various places, everyone had to get up, shave, shower and finish packing at 2:00 a.m. because some guys were leaving a few hours later.  However, I wasn’t leaving until 10:00 that morning.  So, after I got cleaned, dressed and packed, I had to wait for my ride.

God, didn’t make us wait on Him.  Rather, in His great wisdom, prepared all things necessary for man (and woman) before He created them.  In the same way, Jesus willingly surrendered His life an atonement for sins before we were born.

God hems us in with infinite wisdom and care.  Naturally, we want to praise Him, doing  in return what is logical and loving.

Posted in Bible, Creation, John Calvin, Life, Nature, Orderliness | Leave a comment

It Was Only a Bite

Imagine you have travelled back to the first pages of the Bible and you hear the thoughts and see the actions of the first creatures….Adam and Eve

What am I going to do?  The woman offers me a beautiful thing to try.  She bit into that shiny thing and then smiled.  She wants me to do the same.  Should I?

I barely know her.  I like to look at her because she is different.  She moves and talks. There are many things in this place that don’t move and many other things that do.  I like to look at her because she moves and she talks with me.

I won’t give my answer yet. First I will look around. The place has many shapes and shades: tall, dark things with bushy greens on their tops, small things running around.  When I inhale the air is fresh and sweet.

And God is here somewhere.  I talked with Him the other time there was light.  He told me I needed a helper and that was when he made the woman. God took her from my side.  Her looks are pleasing to me.

Should I bite into the shiny thing.  Didn’t God tell me not to take anything from that tree in the center? Didn’t God tell me to not even touch it?  Why would God tell me not to touch it?  It looks beautiful.  And the dark slithering thing on the ground said God was worried that if I ate it, I would be as smart as He is.  

I am so happy in this place.  Can I be even happier?  Why can’t I be just like God.  We could be best friends.  I could make new things with God.  I could take care of this place when God is away.   I want to be as strong as God. 

She is smiling at me again, holding the shiny thing up for me.  It is firm, and its smell pleases me.  

I take one bite.  Oh, it does not taste good, like it should.  It hurts my mouth.  And my ears ache.  I hear God’s voice booming everywhere “Adam, where are you?”  

That’s my name.  I remember it now.  I am Adam and her name is Eve.  

Now, the light has gone.  I cannot see anything, not even Eve.  I am alone and I don’t like it.  How come this happened.  It was only one bite.

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True and Lasting Confidence

I have been taking my time browsing through John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion enjoying some of the words he uses to explain a Christian’s faith.

Book 1, Chapter 14, Paragraph 22

In the creation of the world, and all things in it, 

the true God distinguished by certain marks from fictitious gods (continued)

…while we observe how God has destined all things for our good and salvation, we at the same time feel his power and grace, both in ourselves and in the great blessings which he has bestowed upon us; thence stirring up ourselves to confidence in him, to invocation, praise, and love.

A Reflection

This confident writing of Calvin’s gives me confidence right now even as I worried about high heart rate numbers.  I need not give these things a worry when God has created all things for our good and salvation.  I notice Calvin doesn’t exclude certain things, but says rather sweepingly “God has destined all things for our good and salvation.”  Thank you John for the strength of your writing and the confidence it inspires in me.  You have taken me out of myself this afternoon and made me fully desirous to worship our dear wonderful Creator. 

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