Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Forever Home

Sasha the dog is here to stay. We fell in love with her the minute she walked through our door, her gentle eyes sparkling and her big, thick tail wagging. She is only a year old, and still loves to play like a puppy. I have never met a gentler dog. It has been two days since we signed the papers and welcomed her into our family. We have made a firm commitment to provide for her needs and love her unconditionally for the duration of her life. The rescue calls what we are giving her a “forever home.”

Sasha was skinny, flea infested, and starving when her foster mom found her near the door of her workplace, turning over rocks in search of food. As the kind lady fed her, Sasha jumped up on her lap, shivering and in search of comfort. Since February, Sasha lived with the affection and provision of her compassionate foster parents. But it was a temporary setting. Now she has landed where she will be for the rest of her life. But Sasha doesn’t understand all of this. Right now she only knows that she misses her foster mom. She spent a good deal of yesterday sitting by the front door, waiting for us to take her “home.”

And so we demonstrate to her as much as we can that we love her. We lavish affection and praise on her. She goes for long walks with us and plays fetch. All of her needs are provided. And someday, she will learn to trust us. We will become her comfort zone. But it takes time.

God did much the same for the people of Israel. When He called them out of Egypt, He orchestrated many events to teach them about His power and love. The Hebrews had been away from the promised land for over 400 years. They lived surrounded by Egyptian pagan worship of the gods of nature. They had been cruelly treated at the hands of merciless slave masters. They didn’t understand God or His purposes for them. All they knew was the life they had. So God had to demonstrate who He was to them.

It began with the plagues. Catastrophic events wrecked havoc on the land of Egypt. Each plague seemed worse than the last. And each plague demonstrated that God was more powerful than any of the gods Egypt worshipped; He was ruler over all nature. Finally, after the most devastating plague of all, the Hebrews made their escape. A million and a half people just walked out of slavery and the cruel life they had known.

But quickly they came across their first obstacle. As Pharaoh had second thoughts about losing the huge population of slaves, he sent his armed forces out to bring them back. The Hebrews had an army bearing down on them from behind. And a sea of water stood between them and escape. Yet none of this was out of the plan. God instructed Moses to hold out his staff, and the sea parted. Scripture tells us the Hebrews walked through two walls of water on dry land. And after the entire group had crossed over to the other side, the waters then collapsed, landing on and killing the Egyptian armies in hot pursuit.

And so went the next few years of God introducing Himself to the Hebrews. He met their needs faithfully. He demonstrated His power over and over again. The Law was given to help them to understand His holiness and their appropriate response. His presence was a visible thing in a pillar of cloud during the day and a column of fire by night. I guess He could have just told them about Himself, and expected them to jump on board to a covenantal relationship with Him. But their personal experience in seeing His provision, love, faithfulness, and holiness was a far more effective means of helping them to understand what the relationship was all about. It was a crucial part of the process.

We learn that as teachers. Children will remember very little of what you tell them. But give them an experience, and they will remember it for the rest of their lives. So we do science experiments and field trips and play with math manipulatives. Because it is the way they learn best.

God does the same for us. He puts challenges and hardship and blessings into our lives to teach us about who He is and His faithfulness to us. As we see Him demonstrate His character to us over and over again, we slowly learn to trust Him on a deeper and deeper level. When doubt threatens to overtake us, we look back on all of the times He proved Himself to us. The truth of who God is has been written for us in pages of Scripture. But it is also played out in our lives. God knows we need to experience something to make it come to life for us. And so He actively demonstrates all this to us to help us to understand.

And just like Sasha the dog, we eventually come to trust Him because He has proved Himself to us. And we learn to rest in Him, our “forever home.”

1 comment:

Heather Nicole said...

when you are writing your post, there is a tiny icon above where your typing (like, next to the alignment icons) that is a tiny picture. click on that, and then upload the picture from your computer.
I'm pretty bad at writing explanations, so--really--give me a call and I'd love to talk you through it!