Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Carrying-us God

I am the Lord, and there is none else: there is no God, besides me: I girded thee, and thou hast not known me... -- Isaiah 45:5 (Doulay-Rheims 1899)

These words are spoken to Cyrus the Great, king of the Achaemenid Empire in early to mid-500 BCE.  He was not Jewish, and like many of the powerful kings that came along he was working at taking over the known world.  It is quite startling, therefore, to find Isaiah speaking very positive words about how God is going to help Cyrus - even over and against Israel itself! 

Help from God frequently comes from strange quarters.  Often God's help comes from unexpected places, in unexpected ways from outside the usual boxes -- like how Christ came as a baby in a manger!  As Christians we can get very arrogant in the things we think we know.  We think we know how God works, and too frequently we see it as a Christian Duty to tell others how they should be living so God will work better for them.  We might say for instance that if Cyrus is good to Israel then Cyrus will be blessed.  But, Cyrus wasn't being nice to Israel at all!  In fact, Isaiah is saying that God is going to bless Cyrus abundantly and Israel be damned.  What a mind twister.  Yet, the story finds its way into sacred scripture as having some lesson.  It does.  Two lessons: first that God helps God's beloved people according to a plan larger than we can see from our tiny boxes on the hillside; second, lessons don't come only from pink clouds and rainbow niceties to "chosen" people.

The word "emergency" comes from the root emerge.  Insights, awareness, life lessons emerge from the crises and emergencies that befall us.  Sensitivity, growth, compassion emerge from the emergencies, bitterness and strife we see.  Cyrus destroyed life as Israel had come to know it.  Outside their comforting pastoral life box, through societal annihilation and exile, the deep abiding Carrying-Us God emerged.  God is big enough.  There is no other God, and God girds each one of us for the life we have today -- come what may.

Carrying-us God, keep us upright and moving forward with you today.  Thank you for knowing me.  Amen.

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