Crossing the Line

Wednesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

August 7, 2019

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, our reading from Numbers is about trust versus fear.  The Israelites have finally made it to the front door of the Promised Land. But they hesitate to go in. They get Moses to bargain with God to allow scouts to go ahead of them, checking out the lay of the land. These scouts return with a mixed report: arable land, but ferocious current residents! The community freezes in fear, refusing to go farther.

Israelites into Canaan
The Israelites Cross the Jordan River by Gustave Doré 1832-1883

So what’s this all about for us? Is it wrong for us to be deliberate about our decisions, reversing them when the situation becomes threatening? No, of course not. So what’s the difference here in our Numbers community?

At this moment in Israel’s history, God has made clear what is expected of them. They are in covenant with God – “all in” to follow God’s plan for their lives. God has demonstrated his commitment to them in numerous ways, and forgiven earlier disloyalties. 

The question before them now is have they given God their whole hearts.

Or will this be a sham covenant in which they pick and choose when they will be for God and when they will be just for themselves?

The life of deep spiritual commitment to God is not always smooth. We get really mixed up sometimes in our self-concerns and fears. Many years ago, one of my eighth grade students asked me this: what if there really is no God and you’ve wasted your life believing there was?

It was quite a question, and I’ll bet you want to know my answer.

I said that I wouldn’t change a thing about how I have chosen to live my life. Trusting God and giving my life to him has given me a freedom beyond the limits of this world. Even if, at the end, her doubt proved true, I would have had a blessed and joyous life.

Psalm 106

The fact is that we, just like those Israelites standing on the edge of Canaan, don’t know what will happen to us if we trust God. Life and the future is an intimidating open border that challenges our faith and resolve.

But if we constantly hedge our self-gift to God, we will never be capable of receiving the fullness of God’s gift in return.

Today, let’s pray for the trust to step over into God’s country by our acts of faith, hope, love, mercy, generosity, truthfulness, hospitality and courage.

This beautiful reinterpretation of today’s Responsorial Psalm may inspire you as it did me. It is from the website of Christine Robinson, a Unitarian Universalist minister: Click here for Psalm renderings

Psalm 106: Returning
“Give thanks to God, who is good
whose mercy endures forever.”

We stand in awe of an infinity
which we cannot begin to comprehend
We set ourselves to live in tune with the universe—
that we may be glad with the gladness of people of faith.
Yes, time and time again we have gone astray,

We have despoiled this beautiful, wonderful world
dealt unjustly with our compadres
The law of love is a hard law.
In our prayer and then in our lives,
we return to the Way.

Music: Trust God – Rick Muchow 

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