Thursday, January 2, 2014

Still Walking in a Promise


"We're not the people that we used to be," she had answered.
It was a conversation that happened some time back,
when someone who loved them had come and asked them to help.
To reenter something they had been a part of in the past.
But they had gotten bruised, and scarred,
and they were still walking with a limp in a sense.
When she told us about it, she had tears in her eyes.
I nodded, understanding completely.
In fact, I cried, too.
Have you been there:
wary of joining the group?
Maybe knowing better that this might cost you big.
That your feet will be hurt in the journey:
probably blister and bleed.
Maybe someone will accost you in the road.
Maybe you'll be too weary to make the top of the next hill.
That happens sometimes.

In my youth, I did the high jump.
Briefly.
I started out pretty well.
I liked it.
It was not that difficult to run and leap and twist and land on that big cushion.
At first, to get the form down, we did it without the bar up.
Just to give us boldness in what action we needed to learn.
Then, the bar was put in place, and we ran at that.
That was fun, too.
But one day, with the bar a little higher,
I ran and jumped, and twisted, and landed on my back on the bar.
I landed just enough on it, and not into it,
that I hung suspended for a second before it came down with me on the cushion.
That hurt.
The next time I tried to do it,
I couldn't get the message from my brain to my body to jump.
I gave it a few attempts, and walked away.

I found myself thinking again about Jacob in his old age after this conversation.
So beaten down, with losses and deaths he'd mourned.
Separation he had not wanted brought on him by jealous family members.
It seems like it had been awhile since he'd been on the road
when the call came that he had to make another journey.
A message from the son he had mourned:
"I will provide for you. There's only hunger where you're living."
He saw the carts sent for him, and his spirit revived.
He packed up and went down to Egypt,
stopping to worship on the way.

The place he stopped to worship was where his grandfather had worshiped.
Abraham had planted a tree there.
His father Isaac's enemies had made a vow there with him,
recognizing that the Lord was with him.
The Lord had spoken to Isaac there: "I am with you."
And he too had built an altar and worshiped the Lord.
It was the place Jacob had left when he began his long travels.
The place he had spoken of when he said to the Lord,
"If I return safely to my father's home,
then the LORD will be my God."
It appears he hadn't been back there yet.

The place of promises, and altars, and hope.
The place of his youth, of his quest for a bride.
Where he had not gained yet all the things he lost on the way back.
He arrived back weary, bent over and limping: widowed.
But there he was, come back to worship.
Because all those losses had not changed the Unchanging One.
His promises stood, even though Jacob stooped and limped.

And the Lord spoke to him again.
"I'll go with you, and bring you back again."
And that weary old man set out once more on the long road in his old age.
Probably a lot slower.
But still walking in a promise.

You may not be what you thought you were when you first began to walk.
The sun has baked lines into your countenance.
The tricks others played on you have left you disillusioned.
The son who disappeared left you grieving all these years.
Maybe one child dishonored you unthinkably.
Your daughter came home crying and ashamed.
And it's been a lot of drudgery in the eighteen chapters that passed
from when you went out to when you came back to this place.
But He hasn't changed.
His promises stand.
And although you may say,
"Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life,
and they have not attained to the days of the years of my fathers,"
God is with you in this return.
And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, the most powerful king of his time.
And the lesser is blessed by the greater.
And God is still interested in your journey.

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