i’ve said it before, but it bears repeating …. i’ve had to change my mind entirely about mondays. today was one for the books- a day so good that i haven’t stopped smiling since i woke up. day off, sleeping in, good talk with one of my roommates, a bowl of cheerios, shopping and lunch with my sister, great conversation with a friend at starbucks, cheap chickfila with a couple of my sweet college life girls, a hazelnut café misto, and now i’m ensconced in my favorite chair, writing this. life is beautiful.
i started reading ‘jesus wants to save christians’ by rob bell yesterday, and so far …. i’m intrigued. i read bell with a grain of salt, but usually come away thinking a little harder about things. that is already happening- this book deals a lot with the book of exodus (which, if you know me AT ALL, you know is one of my favorite books in scripture.) we’re dealing with the ten commandments, and getting some good background on the events that led up to these moments between moses and god on mt.sinai. israel has been enslaved in egypt for over 400 years- all this time, working and toiling and being downtrodden. they cry out to god for generations, and he sends one of their own- moses- to lead them out of slavery and back into the land he promised them. moses is his own story, and while its worth our time, he’s not what this post is about.
this post is about liberation. freedom. redemption. salvation. deliverance. rescue. this post is about the precursor to the week we’re in right now.
israel cried out to god to save them from their toil and those who oppressed them. god sent moses- and through a series of bizarre events that ended in the death of the firstborn of all egypt, including the son of the pharaoh, who led them out of slavery and back toward becoming the nation they were intended to be. they get to the red sea just as the egyptian army gives chase and even amid their fear and discouragement, they see the hand of god come to their rescue again. he parts the sea so they can cross on dry ground [god parted the sea, people! he parted the freaking red sea, and the children of israel walked across it on dry ground. not this muddy stuff like we’ve got here after last night’s thunderstorm. dry means dry. in case you can’t tell, this is one of my favorite events in the whole bible.] but he doesn’t stop with parting the sea- he brings that same sea crashing down on top of the pursuing egyptian army and destroys them. and we’re talking a violent, decisive destruction- the act of a father who has had enough of those who have bullied and oppressed his children for far too long. he leads them himself, in the form of a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day, to the base of mt.sinai where he gives moses the ten commandments.
“the only way to understand this covenant relationship between god and the people is to understand what they’ve already been through together. their relationship is rooted in an act of deliverance that god has performed on their behalf. this is not an abstract god who floats above the blood and dirt and pain of the world. this is a god who is fundamentally defined by action on the behalf of the oppressed.” [bell, pg 32]
exodus 20:2 is god telling moses “i am the LORD your god, who brought you out of egypt, out of the land of slavery.” the liberation of the israelites from egypt was a gift from god, an act on their behalf. in the exact same way, our salvation- our liberation from our sin, is a gift from god, and an act on our behalf. ephesians 2 talks about this in detail: “it wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin …. in immense mercy and with an incredible love he [god] embraced us. he took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in christ. saving is all his idea, and all his work. all we do is trust him enough to let him do it. its god’s gift from start to finish! we knew nothing of that rich history of god’s covenants and promises in israel, hadn’t a clue about what god was doing in the world at large. now, because of christ- dying that death, shedding that blood- you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything.”
this week celebrates the passion of christ. yesterday was palm sunday- the scene of jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem; the day when the people acknowledged him as their king. “hosanna! hosanna to the son of david!” this is the week when jesus took the passover feast with his disciples for the last time. the week where jesus was betrayed. the week he was tried illegally by the sanhedrin, and then stood before pilate before he was beaten raw, adorned in thorns, and carried his cross up a hill to die for the sins of mankind- acts. words, thoughts that he was not guilty of. but it is also the week when the veil that separated the temple from the holy of holies was rent from top to bottom, and there was no need for separation from god any more. anyone who wanted to approach could do so. sin was paid for, and the way to god that once required the life and blood of a spotless lamb was now open to all. but it gets better: not only did christ’s death allow us to approach god, he was raised! christ’s resurrection sealed the deal. death and hell were defeated. we can be brought out of our self-induced slavery to sin, and into that life. we are redeemed. liberated. delivered. rescued. free. now our relationship- like israel’s- is rooted in an act of deliverance that god has performed on our behalf. and like paul said in ephesians, ‘saving is all his idea, and all his work. all we do is trust him enough to let him do it.” when we trust him enough to let him rescue us, we get to be in on this plan of rescue. we get to be instruments of rescue by telling people who are still enslaved about the freedom that is theirs for the asking. i can barely comprehend this- not only have i been rescued and redeemed, i am now part of the plan. its so …. liberating. i love the way that it comes full circle because it illustrates how god is all about deliverance.
well, now it is tuesday …. which means i’ve rambled on long enough. being a grownup means that i need to put the laundry in the dryer and get to bed …. work comes early in the morning.
there are moments where the enormity of the goodness and grace of god hit me like a brick wall …. and there are moments where its like i’m floating in an ocean of it, and it is all around me, holding me up and i move in its rhythm. today was both. and i wouldn’t trade it for anything.