Tuesday, September 21, 2010

You got to know when to hold em, know when fold em, when to walk away & when to run!

As per our usual here, today we will look at and talk about the daily lectionary, which can be found here: http://gamc.pcusa.org/devotion/daily/2010/9/21/
In getting ready for today's post I did something a little different than what is my norm.  Usually, I sit down pray, read the lectionary and write the post all in one sitting with out interruption.  Today, after praying and reading I had an idea about what I wanted to say today, but I didn't have time to write it out just then.  For reasons that aren't worth explaining I needed to get my training run in before lunch and so it had to be then.  
And I am just now coming back to the blog post.  It was an interesting decision because I found that I spent most of my run thinking about the readings and trying to let them and their meaning wash over me.
I am going to get back to that in a minute, because I think it is an important point.  But first, let me share with you the part of the lectionary that grabbed me today.  As opposed to 'normal' when I focus on one passage and what I think is going on there, today I was struck by what I perceived to  be a running theme throughout all of the (non-psalm) passages.  For lack of a better term, the theme that stuck out to me was timing.  Epic, earth-shattering stuff, right?  Maybe, maybe not - but it is what I got and I think it is there for a reason.  So, lets quickly look at what I mean:
From the Esther passage: Esther risks everything to come before the king and ask for mercy for her people.  The king brings her in and immediately says something to the effect of, 'ask for anything you want and I will grant it, up to half of my kingdom'.  We may take that as simply bravado or overstatement but in those days words - especially the words of a king - meant something and could not simply be forgotten or ignored.  So it would appear, at least to us as we read the story the first time, that this is her chance, the opportunity she needs to save her people.  But she doesn't take it, instead she asks Haman (the man responsible for putting the Jews in jeopardy) and the King to come to a banquet she has prepared. 
Then at that banquet, the king extends the same offer as before, and again she doesn't make her request, instead asking them to come to another banquet the next day where she will finally make her request.  That is where today's reading ends, but we know - or at least can guess - how the story ends, so the timing must have been the right one.
Then in the New Testament Passage we have stories about Paul's travels and travails.  Here, like in so many other places he stays somewhere and goes, he's asked to stay but leaves, stays even though threatened, etc.  Again, all a question of timing.
Then in the Gospel passage we have Luke's account of Jesus' baptism, which is more sparse than the other gospel accounts.  But again is about timing - it was the time for him to be baptized by John - even though John knows and says that he is not worthy to do so.  
So for my whole run I kept coming back to one question: how did they know when was the right time?  How did Esther know when to make two meals and wait to be asked a third time before revealing her request.  How did Paul know when to stay and when to go?  How did Jesus know when he was to go and be baptized and who should do it?   Because it seems to me that in all of these situations, and in our lives, it isn't just about knowing the right thing to do or doing the right thing, but knowing where and when to be and where and when to do the thing you have been created and called to do.
After my run, as I sat back down to right this post, the answer felt fairly obvious to me.  Esther spent three days in prayer and fasting before she approached the king.
Paul speaks about praying 'without ceasing' and certainly talked as though he took direction from God on all of his decisions.
Jesus, is the very model for us of being in communication and relationship with God.  
In short (too late for that, I know): we cannot hope to have an understanding of God's call on our lives or the timing that God has planned for us if we are not consistently seeking after God.  We must be constantly open to leading of the Holy Spirit and to the whisper of the voice of God.  
God is always going to be there speaking to us, but if we are only listening for an hour on Sunday morning or for 15 minutes at some point in our days or if we only listen once we get in trouble or realize we need help - we will have missed so much of the conversation, and so much of God's words of instruction for us.  
So as we go through our day, wondering about what to do and when to do it, be open to God's Holy Spirit leading you and be actively listening for the still small voice of God guiding you along.

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