Monday, November 20, 2006

Reading Exodus for Insight

Exodus 32:14 "And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people."

So I'm reading Exodus again, not for laws to obey, but for insight into the nature of our relationship with God. I struggle with the meanings of my own actions, so I'm looking for a spark from the books of Moses. I take this passage to mean one thing in particular to me: the struggle with God is real. Moses helps God change his mind just as the Lord helps Moses change his nation. Every time I see an agreement between men, power is given by both sides of the bargain to a common end. We give portions of our livelihood for assistance with the other parts of our livelihood we cannot handle ourselves.

Covenants with God are a little different; God can handle anything himself, but his measures are often harsh. I think God makes covenants with us to avoid this harshness for our own sake by trusting us, particularly Hebrews, to attend to portions of our own punishment. God destroyed all flesh with a flood, but attended to his creations through the duties of Noah: we are now trusted with the animals. That's a lot of trust. As a manner of exposition, I feel compelled to at least mention the other covenants in Genesis. The other covenants in Genesis are with Abraham; his requests for family are realized in the form of descendents: Israel and the Hebrews. They are trusted with much, but have many more direct responsibilities to God. God demands, and Abraham acts; trust becomes more important with each passing covenant. This is obviously Grace.

But there's more in Genesis and Exodus than pious requests and gifts for obedience. Cain kills Abel for inequities with God, then asks "Am I my brother's keeper?" This is the beginning of my insight: God protects Cain from harm at Cain's request. Cain asks for his own life, and is given it. Why? In Exodus 32:7-14, God allows Moses to persuade the Hebrews rather than smiting all but Moses. Why? God forgives us our sins, including the murder of his son. Why? I think God gives because we ask.

Every night before I sleep, I ask. I perceive inequities between myself and the rest of you. It's pointless to decry those inequities: we all know them well. My request is simple: take me Home. Every morning, I awake under a warm roof, with food at my fingertips, and people willing to support me despite the inequities. What more can I ask for and feel insulted if it is not given? God provides always what I need. He doesn't provide what I need when I expect it, nor does he give me everything I want, but he does provide. When I ask for a trip Home, I want a quick death and and to be in the arms of the Lord as I was when I was a kid, before this thing struck me. I'm schizophrenic, but I'm Home. I hate it, but I comply. I only hope that my talents and dedication are enough to fulfill my nightly covenant. My goals remain as always: Peace, Love, and Understanding. Those virtues aren't in my hands, but most everything else is, including sin and the thirst for my own earthly demise. I cannot promise, but I will try in exchange for Home.

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