I've been working through a small devotional guide written by my spiritual director, Debby Bellingham, called, The Mentored Life. Small is key for me right now. Throughout the past two months I haven't felt great and mornings have been particularly difficult. Waking up prior to 7 am (before August wakes) in order to have time for prayer has felt impossible. As much as I've needed that rest and have been able to have grace with myself, I've felt the need for disciplined prayer in my life. So I've been recovering and easing back into my early morning routine. The Mentored Life is helping. I've spent the past four mornings quickly meditating (is that actually possible?) on a passage found in Ezekiel 34:25-31. It's a passage in which God makes promises to the Hebrews, who have been in exile in Babylon. God is making a covenant to banish wild beasts so that the people may dwell securely, to bless them with food, to ease their suffering, and to restore their belief in God's character, so that they may know that "I am your God."
Debby Bellingham writes that we "are supplied with every resource": peace and security, renewal, power, nourishment and defense. What I've needed to be reminded of this week is that God wants to supply me with peace and security. In the midst of a week of stressful apartment hunting (which feels like it's yielding nothing), with the constant threat of an October 1st banishment from our current place, it's difficult for me to rest in a belief that God loves me and longs for my family to be secure. Everything feels like a threat: the other couple viewing the apartment at the same time as me, the busyness of the road said apartment is on, the fear of all the dangers lurking in each apartment for August, the unknown. And time. Time is out to get us. Along with a landlord who is becoming increasingly mean and is constantly challenging our calling to "love our enemies."
Sometimes it's difficult for me to read a passage written to a historical group of people in a specific context and then apply it to my own life. I've been trained to consider historical context, to analyze, to recognize the significance of God's intervention at that point in history. But if I believe I am loved just as the captives in Babylon were loved by their shepherd God, then whether or not God is directly speaking to me in this passage, I can still believe that this is God's heart towards me. He wants me to have security. Everything I imagine as a "wild beast" preventing our ability to "sleep in the woods securely" is something God is fighting to banish. What does that mean? I'm not always sure. But there's peace in knowing that I am loved and that my family will be cared for.
The Mentored Life quotes Soren Kierkegaard and so I will repeat his words:
"O Lord, let thyself be found with a good gift to everyone who needs it, that the happy may find courage to accept thy good gifts, that the sorrowful may find courage to accept thy perfect gifts. For to men there is a difference of joy and of sorrow, but for thee, O Lord, there is no difference in these things; everything that comes from thee is a good and perfect gift."
Can I claim that God is going to provide my family with an apartment just in time that fits our every need? No, but I'm resting in a belief that in spite of the sorrow in the world around me, God is good and wants to provide. That, my friends, is a deep mystery I can't quite see the bottom of, but I'm thankful for it today. And it's Thankful Tuesday.