promises

Day 131

Ahem.

Ahem.

A-he-he-he-hem.

A-HE-HE-HE-HEM.

The Fourth Book of Moses Called

numbersYeah, buddy! Been waiting on that one for way too long.

Now, where was I?

Numbers 14

So all the people, except for Joshua and Caleb, basically give up on the land of Canaan and wonder why they couldn’t just go back to Egypt or die right there in the wilderness rather than be slain mercilessly by the Canaanites.

Joshua and Caleb tell the people not to rebel, and that the protection of the Lord will be with them. The congregation decide that these two should be stoned to death. Shows you how much people push back sometimes against hope, eh?

God says He might as well just smite everybody right there, since He continues to give them signs and symbols and yet they ignore Him. (Gee, God. I’m getting the message. Some days, He isn’t so subtle.)

God even goes so far as to suggest that He will find a new chosen people. Moses reminds God (???) that at this point, everyone has to have heard of the Lord God who brought the Hebrews out of Egypt. If He goes and smites them in the wilderness, then it means that He is no good at following through on his promises. At least, I think I’m reading this right.

So anyway, God says that Caleb and Joshua, their families and the children of the rest of Israel (I think) will be granted the land of Canaan. But no one else! The rest of them will suffer for forty years and die in the wilderness.

So Moses spreads the word, and the people freak out, raising themselves as an army. “No, no! We’re sorry! We’ll go to Canaan and fight!” But God is no longer with them, and they get pushed back.

Good day, all.

Peace be upon you.

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Day 58

Exodus 8

Here we see the next three plagues and we see also Pharaoh’s completely predictable reaction to repeated entreaties to “Let My people go.” The second plague that falls upon Egypt is a plague of frogs; Moses and Aaron work their magic via the power granted them by God, and the land is inundated with frogs.

frog_theme_for_kids

“You mean like the frogs that got f***ed by Joseph Smith?”¹

Pharaoh’s magicians, ever eager to prove that these strange miracles are not of God, summon up some frogs of their own. Pharaoh doesn’t seem to care this time, and is sick of picking frogs out of his fancy hat. He finally asks Moses and Aaron to send them away. If the frogs are removed, Pharaoh says, he will let the Hebrews go and sacrifice to their God.

Moses just asks for a time, and Pharaoh says “tomorrow.” Why he doesn’t say “Right f***ing now, please,” is beyond me. Moses and Aaron call to God and God wipes out all the frogs. The Egyptians pile the mass of dead frogs into rotting heaps. Compared to having frogs everywhere, this was apparently a relief. Although I don’t really know why they didn’t just start eating the frogs since annoying the Lord sometimes grants you an infinite supply of food. Perhaps they were poisonous frogs? Anyway.

Once the frogs are gone, Pharaoh proceeds to once again ignore the commands of Moses and Aaron. No more frogs, not my problem.

So Moses and Aaron send lice. With the power of God, they turn all the dust of the land into lice. This the magicians could not do. At this point even the sorcerers of Egypt are forced to admit that something strange might be going on. “This is the finger of God,” they say to Pharaoh in Exodus 8:19. But still Pharaoh’s heart was hard against these miracles.

Again Moses and Aaron visit Pharaoh, they go through the same old “Let My people go” shtick, and again Pharaoh denies their request. This time the land is swarmed with flies.

diabloitchies

As any Diablo II player can tell you, flies are no laughing matter.²

Finally, Pharaoh calls for Moses and Aaron. I can just picture him swatting flies away from his head as he tells them, “Fine! Just sacrifice already! You can do it right here!”

Moses and Aaron, completely free of flies respond: “No can do, Pharaoh. If we start doing our Jehovah business in Egypt, odds are we’ll get stoned to death. We need to go out of town for a few days first.”

Pharaoh: “Fine, whatever! Just get rid of these damn flies!”

Moses: “Alright, we’ll get rid of the flies. No more tricks, Pharaoh.” I think it’s funny that Moses tells Pharaoh to stop being deceitful when isn’t Moses lying about the whole worship/sacrifice thing? I thought this whole thing was a ruse to get the Hebrews out of Egypt (Exodus 3). I guess the point would be that God does work all things for good.

Moses heads out, asks God to take the flies away, and He does. Pharaoh, being relieved of his misery, once again hardens his heart and goes back on his word. The Hebrews will not be allowed to leave.


I think the most interesting lessons to be learned here come from Pharaoh’s actions. As Pharaoh hardens his heart against these “supernatural” miracles, so to do we harden our hearts against the miracles of the world… the miracle of a rising sun or a beautiful sunset, the miracle of rain falling from the sky and nourishing the land, the miracle of life and growth all around us, and the miracle of the human experience, that we are conscious, that we can create and act in this amazing world, that we exist at all! All of these things seem so normal to us that we hardly perceive them as miracles.

Also, the way Pharaoh constantly changes his attitude after the plague has lifted reminds me of a joke:

A guy is headed downtown and is late for a job interview. He is desperate to find a parking place, and so he rolls down his window and shouts to God, “If you find me a parking place, I promise I’ll never touch another drop of liquor.”
Just then, a car pulls out, leaving a parking place right in front of his building.
He leans out and shouts to God, “Never mind, I found one myself.”

So often we call to God in our hour of need, and forget Him afterward. We make promises and fail to uphold them. For all those who would condemn Pharaoh (myself included) do not forget that every one of us is equally imperfect. We have all made mistakes, we have all made promises that we have not kept.

The beauty of God is that He is always present. C.S. Lewis wrote something that struck me as profound:

If He who in Himself can lack nothing chooses to need us, it is because we need to be needed.

We are still in so many ways like children, children who need attention, love, compassion, and affirmation. God does not have to be there for us, and if He were as we are, many times He would not be there for us. We cannot always be present for our friends or our children. But God can be called upon always. It seems to me that God wants to be called upon always, for us to be fully conscious and accepting of Him throughout all the days of our lives.

More so than that, since I cannot claim to speak for the will of God, it seems to me that our very souls cry out to God, that our souls, our very being wants us to call upon Him, to open ourselves up to God, His grace and His forgiveness. But then, in a sense, our not our souls crying out for their own true essence?

“The boy reached through to the Soul of the World, and saw that it was part of the Soul of God. And he saw that the Soul of God was his own soul. And that he, a boy, could perform miracles.”

— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist


¹ The Book of Mormon (musical). 2011 Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone.

² Diablo II. 2000 Blizzard Entertainment. Image retrieved from http://diablo.incgamers.com/forums/showthread.php?786178-Scavenger-Hunt-4-Tournament-Grail/page11

Day 24

At the time of writing, my internet connection is down. But, it is 10:46 pm and tomorrow is not yet here. Today has felt long and short at the same time. I got some work done, got some things accomplished, and was fairly lazy for the rest of the day. It happens.

So, dear readers, I have looked into today’s chapter and I’m ready to go!


Genesis 24

Sarah, wife of Abraham and mother of Isaac, has passed away. Abraham wants his son to have a righteous wife and so makes a servant swear an oath to find one for him. He makes the servant swear to not allow Isaac to take a wife from the Canaanites, and for some reason insists that Isaac not return to his homeland with the servant.

It seems to me from the scriptures that Abraham is now taking very seriously God’s promises, and knows that Isaac must stay and live in this new promised land. As I write that, I remember another use of the term “promised land;” Don Miguel Ruiz uses it as one of the names for the mindset of heaven.

Here in the story of Abraham we see God taking the unfaithful, “lost” land that is Canaan and promising to make make it into a better place suitable for the families of the righteous. God alone works His magic and infuses the material with the spiritual. The power of God can make “heaven” out of “hell.” Heaven, in this case, being a righteous mindset, a strong holy purpose, love and compassion for others, and compassion for oneself. Hell is wandering and never finding, looking but never seeing, hearing but never listening… hell is the emptiness of the heart; hell is being lost at sea, cast about by the capricious whims of fate.

Heaven is finding purpose and fulfilling that purpose, knowing that God is with you through and through. Genesis 24 shows this, in a way. Abraham’s servant, who must travel to find Isaac a wife, is not sure if he can complete the task, at first. But he takes some men and camels and travels to the city of Nahor, home to Abraham’s brother.

When he arrives at the city, he waits by the well, and prays with intense purpose; his desire is strong, he is in place to fulfill his mission. He has clear expectations, and can envision how they will be fulfilled.

Lo and behold, who should come during his prayer but Rebekah, first introduced to us back in Genesis 22:23. I sort of overlooked her on Day 22, as I had no idea who she was. To me it just looked like a mish-mash of Hebrew-ish names. But here she is, apparently the granddaughter of Nahor.

The servant asks her for water, and she gives generously from her pitcher. She tells him that she will bring water for his camels too, and returns to the well to give him water. The man was surprised and waited, “wondering at her” (Genesis 24:21).

Seek and ye shall find, so they say. With clarity of purpose and determination to fulfill his task, yea, it is fulfilled. By the grace of God did this woman Rebekah come to him, this woman who fit his expectations and the needs of his master. And so it is, that with definiteness of purpose, with faith and determination, we can find a way to fulfill our needs and our goals. We can complete the tasks set before us through our own strength and will, but ultimately through the grace of God.

Many people have said this before and written books on the subject (Think and Grow Rich, The Secret, the latter of which I have never read and for which I cannot vouch) but I know it is true for myself. I once read somewhere that it is not necessarily true that events have inherent meaning, but it is possible to find meaning hiding anywhere. “Contemplate a grain of sand,” and so forth.

If you are looking for a solution, start looking at everything through the lens of your situation, and you will be amazed at how much suddenly applies and connects. Trust your instincts.

This happened to me once upon a time. I had gone camping and during that time of peace and quiet, that time of separation from the tyranny of clocks and the racing rats of life… during that time I had the most amazing experience. It is hard to explain, but I felt God in a cosmic, universal way. I was fresh and new from moment to moment, there was no past and no future, just a wondrous, miraculous now, and that now, the same now as right now, was at its core made up of the purest, whitest light. Color and shape and beauty abounded, but it was as though I could see the Light behind it all; I could see the light and love that is Creation. It was amazing.

The only problem was, I didn’t know what to do afterward. How could I ever go back? How could I go back home, back to living by a clock, back to working at my bulls**t, dead-end job? I was afraid and I was filled with despair. Much like Abraham, who had seen the power of the Lord, I still doubted. Oh, Abraham… I never realized until just now how much I understand you.

And so my night passed in contemplative silence; reality was coming and I had no choice but to face it sooner or later. But I knew that something in my mind had to change; there was a switch that needed to be turned on, some new piece of information I needed to acquire to be at peace. Lo, and behold…

I had brought with me a book, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman. It was lent to me by a friend and spiritual confidant; she thought I would appreciate it. I don’t know why I brought it, or why the circumstances in my life had led me to talk to this friend, or the circumstances that led her to be in a place to acquire and read and value this book, and so pass it to me. A million little choices added up to one little miracle…

So the morning we’re supposed to pack up and leave, head back to “civilization,” as it were, I was still feeling empty. Like Abraham, I felt as though I would be headed to a foreign land, and I was concerned about my safety. That morning, I picked up the book and started reading where I had left off. This is the other part that gets me: I left off in such a perfect spot, and so on this morning, I was able to find exactly the piece of information I needed. Like Abraham’s servant, I knew I needed something, and by the grace of God, I found it. What follows is one version of the same parable:

“Long ago, there was a young man who was searching for enlightenment. He saw a very old man walking towards him, carrying a heavy sack of rice on his back, and was stooped over, his head low to the ground.

The young seeker went up to the old man. He said: ‘Please, sir, can you tell me what enlightenment is?’

The old man threw the sack off his back, and stood up straight and proud.

‘Ah yes, I see!’ The young man cried. “Now can you tell me what comes after enlightenment?’

The old man picked up the rice, and continued his stooped march up the hill.”

I read this and stopped. I looked up and laughed and wept. It was hilarious, it was beautiful, and it was obvious. My burden and my fears were gone from me, and I was able to return home in peace. Of course, I grew increasingly dissatisfied with my position, and only lasted about three more months there, but that is a story for another day.

By the grace of God, we are given what we need, if only we have the courage to look and to ask with an open heart. I am reminded here of a joke that shows what happens when you do not have the eyes to see the gifts of God.

“There was an old man sitting on his porch, watching the rain fall. Pretty soon the water was coming over the porch and into the house.

The old man was still sitting there when a rescue boat came and the people on board said, ‘ You can’t stay here. You have to come with us.’

The old man replied, ‘No, God will save me.” So the boat left. A little while later, the water was up to the second floor, and another rescue boat came, and again told the old man that he had to come with them.

The old man again replied, ‘God will save me.’ So the boat left him.

An hour later, the water was up to the roof, and a third rescue boat approached the old man, trying to get him to come with them.

Again the old man refused to leave, stating, ‘God will save me’ So this boat, too, left him.

Soon after, the water rises and the man drowns. He arrives in Heaven, and when he sees God, he asks, ‘Why didn’t you save me?’

God replied, ‘You dummy! I tried! I sent three boats after you!’”

Gets me every time.

But I digress. The servant does not have the problem of the drowning man, and he sees the work of the Lord for what it is. He speaks to Rebekah, offers her a golden nose ring and golden bracelets, and prays to God. She tells her family about the man, and her brother Laban speaks to him and invites the servant into their home.

The servant tells his story to Laban and Bethuel, his father, and they are reluctant to let her go so quickly. They wish to keep her for ten days, but the servant implores them to reconsider.

reconsider

Something like that. ¹

They ask Rebekah about this and she agrees to go with the servant. Her family blesses her, and Rebekah and her maids leave. They travel back to the land of the Canaanites, where Isaac and Abraham dwell. Rebekah covers herself with a veil and meets Isaac; the servant explains the story, and Isaac and Rebekah are married. First cousins once removed wasn’t such a big deal back then.

Genesis 24 ends in verse 67, stating that Isaac was comforted after his mother’s passing. It seems to be only natural that the new takes the place of the old, and that we move on after our mourning period. Abraham does not forget his wife, but he buries her and mourns her and then goes about the business of living.

Isaac, too, must live, for his life has purpose; he must not spend forever grieving over the loss of his mother. In this case, the beautiful and virginal Rebekah (Genesis 24:16) seems to ease his mind. But of course I joke; Genesis 24:67 also says that Isaac loved Rebekah, and by loving her, he can once again experience joy.

Well, time is up for the day! Midnight has come, and further writing will have to wait for tomorrow’s chapter.

Good night (or good day, depending on when you’re reading this), and peace be upon you.


¹ Kung Pow! Enter the Fist, 2002. 20th Century Fox and O Entertainment. Image retrieved from http://archive.4plebs.org/tg/thread/26247501

Day 13

No more weird premonitions of death this time around.

This morning just presented me with an amazing dream: think Terminator: Salvation meets Inspector Gadget, by way of The Incredibles. Or something like that.

Last night is a different story. I got upset, I took something personally and my fear and shame became anger. I lost my temper and I blew up for no good reason. I was afraid to say that I’d never do it again, because I was afraid of making a promise I couldn’t keep, but this project has shown me that I have the dedication. In only 1176 more days I’ll have proven it.

The anger served another purpose, though: it allowed me, in my stress and sorrow following the incident, it allowed me to re-connect spiritually inward, and for the first time in a while I had a full “meeting” with my council of spirit animals. I have neither the time nor the inclination to enumerate them here, but interested readers will learn the details soon.

Anyway, I slept poorly last night and now I have a long, long day of work ahead of me. I’m going to crack open this Bible and get on with…

Genesis 13

Abram leaves Egypt with Sarai and Lot. At this point, Pharaoh didn’t bother to take back any of his stuff it seems, probably because God gave him enough trouble for messing with Abram already. So Abram is a wealthy man and returns to his place and his altar mentioned in Gen 12:8.

The new problem here is that Lot and Abram both have lots of stuff and big herds and they can’t live comfortably in the same area. “There was strife” between their respective teams of herdsmen (Genesis 13:7). Abram tells Lot that it’s time for them to go their separate ways; Lot heads east to the plain of Jordan. This was before Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, so sayeth Genesis 13:10, and it seems to me that their destruction must have been “common knowledge” at the time, because this event has not yet been mentioned. The plain of Jordan is “well watered everywhere… like the garden of the Lord,” apparently referring to Eden. So Lot dips out.

Abram is once again told by the Lord to look around, and God reaffirms his promise to grant this land to Abram’s descendents. God once again offers his gifts as soon as Abram returns, ready to have faith and accept them.

“And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered.”

— God, Genesis 13:16

Once again, Abram settles his tent near the terebinth trees, this time in Hebron.

This guy.

Me again. ¹

So ends Genesis 13, and so begins the rest of my day. Blessings to you all, energy drinks to me…

Peace be upon you.

 

¹ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pistacia_palaestina