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Listen for the voice of our Father

by davesandel on July 13th, 2021

Tuesday, July 13, 2021                                   (today’s lectionary)

Listen for the voice of our Father

Previously … Pharaoh commanded, “Throw into the river every boy that is born to the Hebrews.”

I sit with Margaret waiting, and waiting some more, and on a bad day one of us will complain about, well, pretty much everything. But these complaints come from the well-fed mouths of us two white middle class people in America – first world complaints for sure. On a very bad day we will both complain, and I’m sure if we were overheard by listeners deep below the equator, perhaps on a small shortwave radio they have owned for years, they would turn us off in dismay, or even disgust.

A young Levite mother bore a son, and hid him for three months. Then she waterproofed a basket made of paper and put the child in it, among the reeds on the river bank. The boy’s sister watched to see what would happen to the boy.

We love this story, but we would not love being part of it. Everyone involved faced a quick execution without trial if they were discovered. And how could they not be discovered? I can’t help but think of our youngest grandson Jasper, big eyes, bright smile, crying too loud at just the wrong times. Yesterday I napped with Miles and Jasper at their house, and the boys took turns waking each other up. They were hungry!

Pharaoh’s daughter bathed in the river and discovered the basket among the reeds. In the basket was a baby boy crying with hunger, and knowing this was a male Hebrew baby, she was moved with pity. The boy’s sister came up to the group of Egyptian girls and quickly offered to find a Hebrew nurse. Then she went and found their mother, so for his nursing years his mother was always near her son. Pharaoh’s daughter called him Moses, for “she drew him out of the water.”

So Moses was discovered, but rather than being killed he was raised in the midst of Pharaoh’s family. Not until he was 40 did his Hebrew heritage come to light, and then only when Moses rose up in self-righteous violence.

Moses visited his kinsmen and saw an Egyptian striking a Hebrew. Moses became angry and killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. But after Pharaoh turned against him, Moses fled to the land of Midian.

Babies cry because they are hungry, then once they’re fed, they sleep. 40-year-old fugitives weep because they are afraid, lonely and bored. Moses found friends in Midian, but his royal upbringing must have roared frequently through his mind when food was scarce and interesting activities even scarcer. We know what was coming next, but Moses didn’t. He met Jethro, tended his sheep and married his daughter. Moses settled into a simple life, 350 miles from the Pharaoh and his memories.

While Moses slept, farmed, and worshipped with Jethro and his family, his enslaved brothers and sisters wept and worked and died a thousand deaths. I wonder what Moses was dreaming in the weeks before God called him back?

I am sunk in the abysmal swamp where there is no foothold. I am afflicted and in great pain. Oh! I know the Lord hears the poor. I must turn to the Lord in my need, and thus I will live.

Moses turned over in his sleep. He dreamed of the day he had killed the Egyptian bully. He heard the cries of broken bodies and broken hearts. Unaccountably restless as he awoke, Moses remembered his childhood and prayed the prayers of his people.

God was getting him ready for something big.

Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

When I am impatient with Margaret or with circumstances, I literally can feel my heart harden. Surely that happens to us all, and to Moses too. But the hardness dissolves when I turn my ear toward God. I listen, speak out, hear the sound of my own voice praying out loud and asking questions, expecting a response. God is not dead; she isn’t even sleeping. Using my imagination, I put words in the mouth of my not-dead God, and before long, those words are no more mine, they are Hers.

No longer complaining, I fall in love with Jesus, and with Margaret, once again.

(Exodus 2, Psalm 69, Psalm 95, Matthew 11)

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