As I write this today I am sitting in the back seat of a car on my way to meetings in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia. I am riding with three people whom I had never met until they picked me up in the school parking lot after work. We tell our children not to accept rides with strangers, and yet here I am, not a bit worried!
The thing that makes this different from hitch-hiking, or looking for a ride through Kijiji is that we have a passion in common and connections through the organization and various friends. The shared interest is justice, the organization is Kairos Canada, and as we drive along chatting the number of shared aquaintences continue increases.
When four people are all planning to travel four hours by car to go to the same place, it makes economic sense, environmental sense and social sense to car pool. You can learn so much about people in four hours together in a car. It is awesome, give it a try!
One of the things that happens when you travel is that you end up sleeping in strange, that is to say unfamiliar, beds. They may have firmer or softer mattresses, different sheets and blankets, and perhaps more of an issue, different pillows. Pillows come in all levels of firmness, some are stuffed with feathers or down, some with synthetic filling, and ours are filled with buckwheat hulls. In some hotels they realize the importance of choice of pillow to the extent that they provide a variety of pillows and even label them as to firmness. No matter how nice the bed may be, when you get home to your own bed, and settle your head down onto your own pillow for the first time there is such a feeling of comfort.
Today one of the lectionary readings was the story of Jacob in Bethel. Jacob is on the run after cheating his brother out of his father’s blessing. He is out in the middle of nowhere and overcome with exhaustion he settles down on the ground with a rock for a pillow. He falls into a deep sleep and dreams of a ladder to heaven. I have slept on some pretty uncomfortable pillows in my travels, even down to a little pile of clothes under the end of the sleeping bag, nothing came close to a rock! What was he thinking? Did he not have any other options?
Hard and uncomfortable as that pillow was, Jacob slept well and God spoke to him through his dream. Do we need a rock pillow, hardship, or fear for our lives in order for us to hear God’s message? I don’t think so. Sometimes it is easier to remember to pray when things are going badly or we are in pain, but God is there for us regardless. When we are curled up in our own beds with our own familiar pillows under our heads we will still be able to hear the voice of God if we listen carefully.
Photo by Daehyun Park find on flickr
Posted in Bible Study, Lectionary, Reflections
Tagged Bible, Christianity, details, dreams, Esau, God, Jacob, Jacob's ladder, pillows, prayer, rocks, travel
This morning the reading for Lenten study was the story of the calling of Abraham. (Genesis 11 & 12) Abram, his name at the time, and his wife Sarai lived in Ur. If you have taken ancient history you would know that one of the great pieces of ancient architecture from this area is the Ziggurat at Ur. Ur was a city in what we know today as Iraq, and was quite close to the Black Sea. One day God told Abram to pack up all his goods and chattels, his wife and all the household and head west. Along with his father and his nephew Lot, this is exactly what Abram did.
If your boss came up to you tomorrow and told you to pack up everything you had and head west I bet you would have a lot of questions and would at least ask for time to consider it. Where will you be headed, what is the job at the other end, do they pay travel expenses, will there be a raise involved? Abram didn’t ask any of this. We know that he ended up all the way at the other end of the Euphrates river, against the Mediterranean Sea and then headed further south. There were no trucks, no professional movers, this was going to be a long walk of around 600 miles and not a feat to be scoffed at!
I don’t know what I would do if I was called in this way. First, I hate moving! I have really done all the moving I feel I ever need to do. Second, I’m pretty sure my husband would wish me luck and say that he is staying right where he is.
Think of the kind of faith God was expecting from Abram! To pick up all you have and head off to an uncertain destination and an uncertain future on the basis of a couple of dreams and the promise of God.
I think the reason this came up in the context of Lent is that we need to be thinking about our faith and just what it might mean for our lives. Things are not always rosy. Your faith may end up costing you comfort, security, friends, etc. I believe that we receive calls to action a lot more frequently than we think we do and we fail to recognize them or fear the change and resist them. Who couldn’t come up with a list of justifications for not moving to another town, another job, etc?
Are you ready to extend your faith this far? Pray like the man whose daughter was dying and had gone to Jesus for help, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)
Posted in Bible Study, Reflections
Tagged Abraham, Abram, Bible, Cannan, change, Christianity, faith, God, Lent, moving, packing, reflection, Sarai, Shechem, transfer, travel, Ur, walking, worry