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exit stage right, left, front, back, i don’t care just let me out of here

One more bit of my writing this week from Genesis. More time with Noah and the Mrs. in that ark of his. Like the previous post, this will appear on my devotions blog in a few weeks and like the previous post I just can’t wait…
exit (1)

“Go out.”

Now there’s something we seldom wait for.

We like coming and going on our time table,
thank you very much.

How many times have we scene it play out in the movies? Someone is told to wait – wait for the signal, wait for the order, stay put until…but no, the forlorn character can’t wait, but steps out, often fatally, putting everyone and everything in jeopardy. We squirm and shout our brains out at the screen, the passion intensified, no doubt, because deep down we know that’s what we do.

Who wants to wait for it for 40 + 150 + 150 + 40 + 7 + (please, enough already! not another digit! you hear me!) + 7 (dang! you had to, didn’t you!). Seriously, who wants to wait for that? Especially during the final two sets of seven while Noah plays with his birds? I mean, think of it.

Think of Noah’s unnamed wife.

she who's name must not be spoken...

she who’s name must not be spoken

Look up “stir crazy” and you’ll see a picture of Noah’s wife with “unnamed” in the caption.

Can you hear her voice?

“Why don’t you just crawl out the port hole? For once in your life be a man! Stop your whirling and twirling and show some initiative. Do something constructive. Do something!

Maybe Noah didn’t need his wife to say this because he was busy thinking it himself. Perhaps she bore all of this delay and suspense sitting stoically in her recliner right beside his. Maybe not. And maybe this explains what (spoiler!) happened with Noah’s son Ham. Ham was just exposed too long in the box and he spoiled (told you).

But the fact is God shut them in. And God told them when it was time to leave.

God shuts us in.

exitGod opens the door and says, “Go out.”

We don’t like that. Well, we like the “Go out” part. We just don’t like waiting for it.

We don’t like that maddeningly frustrating counsel of James – it’s so un-American, so in-human:

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way” (James 1:3 in the Message; thanks Eugene Peterson for making this annoying counsel even more annoying).

We don’t like our faith-life forced into the open. And one challenge at a time from one direction. Please. And we reserve the right to do all we see fit to get out of things prematurely and then pat our own backs at our remarkable initiative and “faith.” How many of our prayers for healing and recovering for ourselves or others are driven by our own myopic desires to escape the box we’ve been shut up in, as we lower our tresses (or tell others to lower theirs), Rapunzel-like, through the port hole to make good the escape? And we shout “Just believe!” as we urge them or ourselves to rappel down the side of the box.

Oh, what faith (aka insanity) it takes to wait for his “Go out” even though we risk our box becoming our tomb. Because that healing, liberating, life-giving word comes – even though we fear we’ll be a-molderin’ in the grave before we hear it. In his time. At the right time.

It comes.

Wait for it.

And once you’ve heard it. Get. Out.

What are you waiting for?

Avram

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2013 in Faith, Genesis, haverings

 

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i wait

Spent the past four days in Noah’s ark. At least that’s how it felt. Hadn’t gotten much writing done the past four weeks, so I was making up time, pretty much sequestered. With Noah. In his claustrophobic box. Genesis 5-11.

Want to share a sample that will appear on my devotions blog in mid-August. Don’t want to wait…

Waiting.waiting (1)

Let us attempt a definition.

To wait is to suffer through interminable, frustrating, immobilizing inactivity in the midst of a pressing desire to move that is practically bursting out of your chest.

And we hate it.

Every.

Aggravating.

Minute.

Of.

It.

It’s why we have multiple self-checkout lines in our superstores. Who wants to wait for the checker to tediously, slowly drag each item across that scanner as they make small talk with that person ahead of you (you know, the one with the 30 items in the 15 items or less lane and a stack of coupons and at least four items that have to be researched in depth for a price)? Who has the time? The lack of late night self-checkout lanes is one of the key reasons I stopped shopping at a certain local superstore. Fair trade and social justice issues? Would that I were so deep (who has time for that?). I just got tired of waiting all the live long night (it’s amazing how long five minutes can be when it’s after midnight in a superstore). Now they have a half dozen new ones open all the time, right by the door that’s open all night. Brilliant. And virtually wait free.

Bliss.

waitingBut here’s the interesting thing. Noah waited. For forty days and forty nights it deluged. He waited. For 150 days the waters rose. Noah waited. Six months. God remembers – though the only way Noah probably could have known that was by the sound of a new wind blowing outside his claustrophobic box. For another 150 days the water recedes. He waits. The ark makes landfall on Ararat and peeking out the one porthole he spies new peaks. He waits as another forty days pass. Then he sends the raven. He waits. Another seven days. He sends the dove and she returns. Another seven days. He waits…

Here’s the cool thing in all of this Noahic waiting.

The Hebrew word translated “wait” here doesn’t mean listless, frustrating, immobilized and immobilizing inactivity. It actually means to whirl, to twirl, to dance. Yes, it can also mean to writhe in terror. Perhaps it was an earthy mixture of both, just as it is for us as we too wait in our stinking box peering out through our single porthole in the midst of our mess.

Seeing this gave me a completely fresh picture of Noah in that box of his.

No stoic reclining, this. He writhed. He twirled. He danced a dance brimming with the mixed melodies of fright, tired-of-waitingfear, anger, joy and anticipation. He writhed with all of creation as it was smothered in watery darkness; he twirled with delight at the sound of that mother of all blow-drying winds; he did hand springs when at last he felt the boat connect with solid ground below and when the top of those mountains could be seen.

Waiting is a dreadful, writhing dance of anticipation and suspense.

The challenge is to let ourselves feel it, to enter it, to express it, as we, with Viktor Navorski passionately chant,

“I wait!

navorski

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2013 in Genesis, haverings

 

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if religion is a box it really should be more like the TARDIS

I’ve been bombarded with “box” imagery of late.box

A friend sent me a poem about personally becoming “unboxed.”

I just listened to a commencement speech urging the graduates to think outside the box.poke-the-box

I recently stumbled across Seth Godin’s Poke the Box. Again.

And I keep seeing boxes of various sorts when I’m talking with people or just listening.

During that commencement speech, one of the examples of “out of the box” thinking and living was Noah in his willingness to buck the culture and endure the ridicule of his contemporaries. I couldn’t help but savor the irony of Noah thinking outside by box by building one very large seaworthy box. It was evidently a box that took him a century to build, a box he lived in for a year. noahs_arkBut then, significantly, after the box had served its purpose by conveying him to a new world, Noah stepped out, walked away, and evidently never looked back. And we’re still looking for that box. Interesting that he didn’t turn that box into his home or into a hotel, a museum, or a temple. He walked away and now we must simply imagine the box.

In another conversation, the image of the Old Testament tabernacle and temple was evoked – and what was tabernacle and temple but a box within a box within a box like the ultimate set of holy Russian nesting dolls? Holy Place, Holy of Holies, and Holy Box of the Covenant. Interestingly enough, God nor heaven was contained in that Holy Box. God said he dwelt above the box. And when God’s presence showed up there in the form of a disorienting, foggy cloud, everyone had to step out of the box. Hmmmm…

And now, it’s the TARDIS.Time And Relative Dimension in Space

It took a bit of time, but my daughter has succeeded in sucking me into the world (or worlds) of Doctor Who, though I don’t know if I have yet attained to full official Whovian status.

But if religion is a box, it should be like the TARDIS.

Period.

Bigger on the inside. And that’s an understatement.Tardis_inside

Not just a thing, a holy relic or museum display, but alive and sentient and mysterious.

And it takes you places – and the real question: is it where you want to go, or is it really where the TARDIS wants to go? Who really is driving the TARDIS?

When you get to where it takes you, you are supposed to step out of the box.

Though archaic in its outer dimensions and clearly out of this world, it blends in anywhere.

And it provides a universal translator.

Now there’s a box I can get into.

And out of.

 
 

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