..If there is dew on the fleece alone…then I shall know that you will deliver Israel by my hand. Judges 6:25-40 When I was considering Graduate School, I wasn’t certain that I would be accepted anywhere. Of the three schools I considered, only one felt entirely right. As I shared my desire to go back to school, five women who had attended the school I most wanted to attend encouraged me unequivocally to go. They were far more certain than I, that it was where I belonged. In my mind I only had one chance. I was not interested in a backup plan. Besides, applying to school costs money and I didn’t want to waste money on rejection letters. God as my witness, with five references in hand, I sat down and prayed; “Lord I’m only applying to one school, it’s the only place I want to be. If I’m accepted I know that graduate school is where you want me to be as well.” It would have been quite painful had I not been accepted. To be honest, I don’t know what I would have done. Questioning is a part of life, and because of that, “getting to yes” sometimes involves patience on God’s part. Although we don’t always get the answer we hope for, it doesn’t mean that our passion or desire is invalid. We must continue holding to our faith and know that God will work through our questioning.
I am the one you have bereaved of children; Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. Genesis 4:29-38 It is said that loss comes in threes. Certainly, there have been times I have experienced traumatic events in triple. Perhaps a coincidence, nonetheless the feeling is like the weight of a giant snowball rolling down a mountainside that can’t be stopped. We find Jacob at the foot of a mountain watching that rolling snowball, pushed at the hands of his own sons, and headed towards his youngest son Benjamin. Where is God? We are not the first to question God and we won’t be the last. In our most difficult times hope becomes a fine line that we must walk like a tightrope artist, knowing that if we don’t focus on the gravitational pulls of life we perhaps will stumble but we will not fall; or if down we’re never out. Our tunneled faith will guide us through until we reach firm ground and Paul’s words to the Corinthians come to light; ..do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within in you..? If God’s Spirit is within us, God’s strength is within us as well.
In spite of it all, our history, traditions and reasoning, God seems confident that we, his creation are worth waiting for. Yet we make him wait for our affection, compassion, commitment and ultimately our love. Perhaps the gift of the Holy Spirit is not a risk at all, at least not on God’s part but rather a challenge. Dare we open our hearts as children, that we may receive it fully and completely so as not to allow the obstacles of the storms, fears and doubts, overwhelm our desire to travel this Christian journey in peace? The alternative of course is to do what many of us have done and receive it conditionally and with restriction in our lives, in that as long as we experience the good without disturbance we are all too eager to acknowledge it’s power and authority. Soon afterward mistakenly believing that it doesn’t matter what we do or whether we do anything at all the spirit is favorably guiding us. Subsequently, when the storms come (especially the the sudden ones) we tend to feel as if they are a personal attack specifically against us resulting in the all too well-known disparaging thoughts; “Why me? and Where is God in all of this?” While the Holy Spirit has no respect of person, the reality is that neither do the storms. Whether we walk into the storms willingly or whether they come upon us without warning, we are the ones who happen to be in its way. Either way the challenge is to hold fast to the power and authority of the Holy Spirit while in the midst of the storm, which historically and traditionally submits to that over which it ultimately has no authority or power.
Consider for a moment a time when you may have felt hurt or betrayed by someone and yet as you look back on life you find yourself in a better place because of that experience. There is no way of knowing with absolute certainty what Judas’ thoughts may have been, but we can not argue that he must have had some questions and struggles within him even into his death, which in my mind is a tragedy. We know that Judas questions the use of the oil used to anoint Jesus feet. Perhaps he also questions Christ’s tactics and motives and particularly through out these last days struggles with the perceived rise of Christ among common humanity. Judas finds himself in between his relationship with the world and the spiritual relationship with Christ. He is having a difficult time seeing beyond the vehicle that is the body of Christ. Remember Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Is not Judas portrayed to be in a place where we sometimes find our selves; unable to see beyond our present circumstances questioning God’s ways? The reality for us today is that when Judas died those questions, concerns and doubts did not die with him. Ultimately Judas had to make a decision and so do we. The scripture had to be fulfilled and Judas made the choice that led him to a sacrifice for death and yet leads us to the one sacrificed for life. Judas could be anyone of us or someone we know, but Judas’ dilemma doesn’t have to be our dilemma. The good news is that we have something that Judas did not have, the gift of the Holy Spirit. Are we using the gifts of the Holy Spirit so that the scripture can be fulfilled in our own lives?