Our old testament reading for last week was in the book of Exodus. It’s Moses’ first encounter with God, the call to go tell Pharaoh to free the children of Israel and God proclaiming himself as IAM. Wednesday morning was the 4th time that I had heard it read. My friend Will said to me the other day, “anything happening 3 times is a sign that God is trying to tell you something, the 4th is kind of like smacking you over the head.” So I asked myself, what does God want to tell me through this story?
This chapter has revealed several things to me. What comes to mind first is the absurdity of God. He comes in a burning bush and calls an old man who is shepherding on the edge of the dessert to go tell the Pharaoh to end slavery. Huh? The way that God works through everyday people is astonishing and sometimes laughable, but I like how God can use the underqualified and ill equipped to do mighty things. This passage also made me realize that God will find you (Moses had run away from Egypt and Pharaoh’s house many years before), that your call with find you or perhaps you will even stumble upon either God or your call when you are doing something rather ordinary. That sounds like good news to me. I can stop worrying about my calling, God will speak when it is the right time, either it will find me or perhaps I will stumble upon it while I am being present to my life. I can also stop trying to come up with excuses of why I can’t do something, God, the great I AM will certainly be with me.
At our Wednesday Bible study we had a lively discussion of God’s response to Moses’ request for HIS name…“IAM WHO I AM.” DeBorah’s interpretation resonated with me. Maybe God was saying that He is being itself, He is reality and the ground of our being. His name, “I AM,” revealed His eternal, self-existent, and all-encompassing sufficiency. A powerful force both with me and within me ignites enough strength for me to say yes to God, yes to joining him on an often scary and overwhelming journey. Perhaps I can stop fixating on what I am not, or what I do not have and go with God.
The preacher at our worship service gave us three directives from this passage… to face God, face our mortality and embrace our own peculiarity. This last statement struck me, as I have been thinking about embracing my own oddity this year. Moving to a monastery is an odd thing as is wanting to live in intentional community in the age of individualism and desiring less in the age of consumerism. Despite the status quo, I have had to embrace my unique desires. Ultimately, I am attracted to the Rule of Life here, the 12 statements around which we hope to live our lives around and set the intention of living into. Many of these statements reflect the things I want to pursue (social transformation, racial reconciliation, stability, prayer), the kind of person I want to become (humble, . Moving here was an act of embracing the unique desires of my heart, my own peculiarity. I was chatting at a coffee shop with a new friend on Monday. Toward the end of our conversation she said, “Wow, you are a really interesting person, you have really lived outside of the box.” Sometimes this out of the boxness causes me grief because I often wonder where I belong or if maybe I am crazy. Lately though, I have felt compelled to just receive myself and so I could really do nothing in response to her but smile, receive her words and agree. I am reminded of the scripture that leads me to believe that being peculiar is a good thing, I can receive this as well:
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”