Sometimes I wonder about humanity. And I marvel at God's patience. I think I would have given up long ago. This morning I was sitting, meditating on this first week of the Lenten season, asking God to grant me patience as I await life's next journey. Something made me stop my petition and rearrange the subject of my prayer: God, be patient with me. When I stop to examine the darkness of my own heart, I realize just how perfect God's character is and the greatness of God's patience since the beginning of time.
I was reading in Exodus when God selects Moses to go before Pharaoh to request the release of the Hebrews, and even after seeing a burning bush, a staff turned to a snake, a hand turned leprous, and water from the Nile turned to blood, Moses doubts God's wisdom in choosing him. God's patient and forthright response reminds me of Job:
"Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."
I love that. I gave you your mouth. I will help you. I will teach you. God uses Moses in his weakness. Hadn't he just taken his sandals off? Hadn't he just been standing on holy ground, blinded by the flames of a bush burning with God's presence? Moses' doubts and fears are bigger even than a burning bush, but God speaks to him as the Creator and reaffirms that Moses is the humble and imperfect man he has cultivated to be a leader of Israel since his untimely birth.
This reminds me of God's love and great purpose. The fact that he knew that when he created man, man would reject him, his people would rebel and doubt for thousands of years, and eventually he would send his beloved son to die for the redemption of the world, and yet he still created man. God predestined that his son would die but went through with the mess that is humanity anyway. What love is this?
The Psalm for the first Sunday of Lent according to the church lectionary is Psalm 25, of David. Reading verses 14 and 15, I hear David's confidence and fear, I feel like Moses, and I remember: "The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare."
As I consider this season of fasting and anticipation, I ask that in these next forty days (and forever, Lord, truly) that God would be patient with me, that he would open my eyes to the sacred in the ordinary, and that he would confide in me as I center my gaze on him.
Sometimes there are these moments, if I'm very attentive and watchful, where I can see the movement of the holy so vividly. It is a person, or an act, or an image that is so clearly and so subtly sacred that I am nearly moved to take off my shoes.
I have always loved these lines from poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning:
"Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries."
I pray that God would grant us the ability, the vigilance to see the sacred in the everyday.