Saturday, March 6, 2010

See What You Did...

You may have noticed by now that I love to find little bits of humanity in our scriptures. All of my life I had placed the folks in scripture so high on a pedestal that they were no longer human at all, merely characters in stories that were lacking any human weakness whatsoever. I was reminded again today that this is just not so.

For example, the biblical Moses, for me, had been replaced by Charlton Heston as he stared Yul Brynner down and demanded that he "Let my people go." Every decision that he made must have been the right one, he was Moses for crying out loud. He never made a mistake or questioned what he was supposed to do. But for me, those are the things that would have made him human. We do that sometimes, don't we? Place folks on pedestals, I mean.

As I was reading this morning from Deuteronomy, Moses and the gang are making their final push to cross west of the Jordan to take the Promised Land. The events leading up to the crossing read like the script from Conan the Barbarian, with every man, woman and child already living in the land being totally destroyed. Only Og, king of Bashan was left, evidently because his bed was too heavy to carry off, I don't know.

But here we are. Time to cross is drawing nigh and Moses gets a little upset. Not because he has not accomplished what he set out to do, but because he will not set foot into the Promised Land. Moses was told by God to command Joshua to lead the people across the river, and wanted to go with them so bad. He even pleaded with God, "Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan."

And then he did it, and I love this part. Here's what he said next: "But because of you the Lord was angry with me and would not listen to me." It was the Israelite's fault that Moses wouldn't get to cross the river. Nothing like some good ol' fashioned passing of the buck to make an iconic biblical character seem a little more human.

They were human, and we are the ones who have forgotten that; Moses, Noah, David, Ruth, Samuel, Saul, and most definitely the disciples, were all human, with human weaknesses, and their own human demons to battle. I wonder if it's because we've seen them immortalized in stained glass or if it's because we only read the stories about their strong moments, but whatever the reason, we have separated them from their humanity. I think it's time to give it back to them, and here's why.

When I see someone in the scriptures struggling with who they are, it gives me permission to do the same. Now, I would love to say that never happens, but it does. And I think that if we're honest, it happens to all of us at some point. We have done a real bang up job in the church at making folks feel like they have to have everything figured out before they can be a part of us; it's been going on for centuries. With these stories, we can show folks that even the people that we thought had it figured out, didn't always. I think it would open a lot of doors, but that's just me.

So here's where I'm at this week. I'm not looking at their weaknesses to justify my own, please hear that. But I do think that to get the full effect of what God had done in their lives we have to be able to see who they were in their strongest moments, and in their weakest. So I encourage you, as you read the stories for yourself, to look for those moments of struggle. I think, actually I almost know, that those will be the moments that will strengthen you the most.

May God give you strength to be weak.


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