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Meditations by Deborah Smith Douglas
The novelist Kurt Vonnegut tells us that “an unexpected travel invitation is a dancing lesson from God.” So, too, do the unlooked-for opportunities of our lives often prove to be.
Abraham and Sarah were the ancestors of the people of Israel, whose cultural identity was destined to be tied up forever with their wandering. But it is not just the Hebrew people who are strangers and pilgrims in this world: so are we all.
It is painfully difficult to praise God among hostile strangers, to sing of love and trust from the midst of captivity and exile. Nonetheless, that is sometimes what we are called—and empowered—to do.
Sometimes we fall, and must be helped to rise again. And sometimes we are caught in a trap, ensnared in a peril we did not see coming.
Sometimes, when we are worn out and sunk in a kind of self-destructive lethargy, God must wake us up and insist that we strengthen ourselves, and then send us on the road again.
As God uniquely called and sent Jesus, his only begotten Son, to do his redeeming work in the world, so Jesus called and sent his disciples—and so he calls and sends us, inviting us to follow where he leads us.
We may forget that the most abiding perseverance is sustained not by self-will but by joy. For Christians, the joy of our Risen Lord is indeed what gives us life.
In Christ, the human dynamic of being creatures “on the way” encounters the deeper mystery, the sacred dynamic, of the One who is the Way: the God who is at once our goal, our motive power, and the road by which we travel.
Undoubtedly there were times when the Israelites sojourning in Sinai followed the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night more doggedly than easily.
Sometimes we can only see the pattern in our lives by looking back, only discern the meaning of an experience by returning to it in memory.
Like Lot’s wife, we sometimes lament to ourselves, “If only.…” “What if?” we ask ourselves. And we risk wasting time on what cannot be changed, while God is urging us forward instead.
Undeniably, Ruth is an appealing image of the homesick pilgrim. But it occurs to me that she could also be the emblem of a faithful disciple.
Sometimes we “entreat God not to leave us,” as Ruth begged Naomi. Sometimes, on the other hand, we can't get away from God fast enough. Sometimes the presence of the Lord seems to be the last thing we want.
The English poets and the ancient writer of Deuteronomy share the insight that God alone is our beginning and our end, our dwelling place, our home.