The Lessons of Exodus

Dear Friends…

As you know from following the news, our “pause” here in New York has been now extended until May 15. Clearly we all agree that saving lives is always our first priority as believers, so it’s wise to trust the doctors, experts and leaders who say that this is a necessary preventative step. And after all, as fellow citizens, they will be just as impacted by this as the rest of us will.

All that notwithstanding, this certainly is feeling like a long haul. You may find yourself starting to get antsy… or worse… you may feel that the walls are closing in. Perhaps your patience is fraying, your belt is and bulging, your mental and emotional outlook is deteriorating. All of this is normal. A friend of mine recently told me she feels like a fish in a rapidly shrinking pond. And when on top of that we add fear of ourselves or our loved ones possibly dying from this illness, it’s a lot to take.

Once on a church sign, I saw:

“When life knocks you to your knees, you’re in the perfect position to pray.”

So since this challenge, like all challenges, is an opportunity to grow in our faith and our relationship with God, I’d recommend taking time this week to page through the second book of the Bible: the Book of Exodus.

In a time that had some striking correlations with our own, Moses was called to free his people from a slavery that many had come to accept as “just the way life was.” There was no clear way for them to be free from the normalcy of their slavery, until in came a series of stunning wake-up calls… pollution of water, changes to the environment, interruptions to the food chain and a life-threatening pandemic. (Are you with me here?)

The institutions that were keeping them enslaved crumbled, so they walked away from “just the way life was” into a new freedom that didn’t provide the same comforts and protections of their old life. They experienced a miracle early on that told them with 100% certainty that God was with them, but people’s memories are short, and they soon got really dissatisfied with the discomforts of life without their familiar institutional supports and comforts. They wanted to rebel. Many even wanted to go back to slavery because it just seemed easier than the difficulty of life where the only thing you can depend on is God and the goodness of people in your community. (Are you with me here?!?)

They had no idea how long it would take until they settled into the new and better “normal” of life free from the slavery, and beyond the days of struggle that freedom required; the state they called “The Promised Land.” How long would it take, they wondered. Until Easter? Until April 30? Until May 15?

In the end, it took 40 years. And the people had no complaints at all about that. They accepted it gracefully.

Just kidding! They cried, complained, attempted mutiny, wanted to go back, stopped being grateful, doubted God, at times rejected their faith, engaged in all sorts of unhealthy and unholy behaviors. It was a long, messy chapter of their lives. (Are you with me here?!?)

And only when they arrived in the Promised Land, unpacked their sacks, soaked their feet, looked around and realized that they had not only survived, but were now in a life that was better than they could have dreamed when they were slaves.

And only when they were in the Promised Land could the look back and see that God had been there the whole time. God was in all of it. And the discipline they gained from their struggles would remain with them generation to generation to generation. (Are you with me here?!?)

But they were warned by the elders that they would need to always remember the story of their journey… and teach it to their children. They were told it would be easy and natural to forget these lessons, but that they must never allow that to happen because when you know that God got you through even THAT, you know for sure that God isn’t going to let you go now. With God, you can get through anything.

People’s memories are short, but we must never forget that the lessons Coronavirus challenge is teaching us have previously been learned by earlier generations. And these lessons will be hard learned, but SO worthwhile. The future of our people depends on it.

Take some time to consider the lessons of our Exodus this week.
And recommit yourself to trusting God and trusting the journey for another day.

This comes with love,
Father Scott