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Rushing Here and There

Isaiah 28:9-16 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
9 Can no one be taught anything? Can no one understand the message? Must one teach barely weaned toddlers, babies just taken from the breast,
10 so that [one has to use nursery rhymes]? —Tzav la-tzav, tzav la-tzav, kav la-kav, kav la-kav, z‘eir sham, z‘eir sham. [Precept by precept, precept by precept, line by line, line by line, a little here, a little there].
11 So with stammering lips, in a foreign accent, [Adonai] will speak to this people.
12 He once told this people, “It’s time to rest, the exhausted can rest, now you can relax” —but they wouldn’t listen.
13 So now the word of Adonai for them comes “precept by precept, precept by precept, line by line, line by line, a little here, a little there,” so that when they walk, they stumble backward, and are broken, trapped and captured!
14 So listen to the word of Adonai, you scoffers, composing taunts for this people in Yerushalayim:
15 Because you said, “We made a covenant with death, we made a contract with Sh’ol. When the raging flood passes through, it will not touch us. For we have made lies our refuge and hid ourselves in falsehoods” —
16 therefore here is what Adonai Elohim says: “Look, I am laying in Tziyon a tested stone, a costly cornerstone, a firm foundation-stone; he who trusts will not rush here and there.

Ephesians 4:1-16
2 Always be humble, gentle and patient, bearing with one another in love, 3 and making every effort to preserve the unity the Spirit gives through the binding power of shalom.  4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as when you were called you were called to one hope.  5 And there is one Lord, one trust, one immersion, 6 and one God, the Father of all, who rules over all, works through all and is in all.

James Kiefer; commemoration of Simon and Jude
“But the fact that something can be abused does not mean that we ought to give up its proper use. And surely one of the most valuable truths of the Christian faith is that God's love for us moves us to love in return, not only God but also one another, so that every Christian is a mirror in which the light of Christ is reflected to every other Christian. The Scriptures seem to show that God delights in giving us gifts through others when He could just as easily have given them directly.”
 The phrase that grabbed me the hardest was: "He who trusts will not rush here and there,” but when I went back to try and extract a meaningful phrase from the Isaiah passage, I ended up having to include the entire passage. Each thought follows from the other in a way that, if I took an isolated phrase or sentence, it would end up being out of context and misleading. So there you go.
(I also have to complain a bit: The NRSV translates verse 9 in Isaiah as “Whom will he teach knowledge, and to whom will he explain the message? Those who are weaned from milk, those taken from the breast?” Compare that convoluted and hard-to-understand phrasing with the blunt, plain language of the CJB! Also, how would we ever have known that ‘precept by precept, line by line,’ etc. was a nursery rhyme, if it wasn’t noted in the text? I am getting more and more impressed with the CJB, and underwhelmed with the NRSV.)

  As far as connecting all the passages together, I’m not sure that I even really need to. I’ve been reminded repeatedly in the last few days, how much it is all about trust. I can’t even come close to describing the profoundly positive effect of using the word “trust” in place of the words “faith” or “belief”. Doing so completely invalidates the passive–aggressive question of, “Do you believe in God?” and makes it obvious that it isn’t really a very friendly question.
How can you trust God, if you can’t trust the person who is trying to persuade you to take such a risk?
And then there are the other tricky, loaded phrases like, “Have faith!” and questions like, “Do you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior?” and “Are you saved?”
I’m with Isaiah, wanting to clutch my temples and yell, “Doesn’t anybody get it?!”

But the thing is, it is pretty simple. There isn’t anything to figure out, really. If it’s about trust, then all we need to do is practice trust. If we are practicing how to trust, then we really can’t pretend to believe things we know are lies, and it won’t be possible to hide our understanding behind layers of denial. If you think about it, why would we even lie to ourselves like that in the first place? Well, because trusting is hard. And scary. Believing a lie becomes easy when the lie makes you feel better, makes you feel safer. Taking it straight from Isaiah, here’s what the text looks like to me:  We’ve made a deal with death, to pretend that death won’t touch us, and bad stuff will never happen to us. That lets us ‘believe’ that the ‘raging flood’ of tragedy, misery, grief, and futility won’t touch us when it comes by and knocks the people around us right off their feet.
But see, to do that, we have to pretend that we are not connected to everyone else by the love of God. We have to pretend that we are listening to God, when deep down we know that we are really saying “La, la, la” with our hands clamped tightly over our ears.
When it comes to listening to God, it isn’t possible to understand what we are hearing without walking out over the abyss onto the invisible bridge of trust.
When it comes to trusting God, it isn’t possible to trust God without trusting each other, and oh yeah, being trustworthy. That is how we reflect the love of God to one another; that is how we ‘preserve the unity the Spirit gives through the binding power of shalom.’

If God really delights in giving gifts to us through others, then we need to look at everyone we meet as if they might have a present from God for us hidden behind their back, so they can present it at the perfect time. If God really delights in giving gifts to others through us, then we should be going around always ready to surprise people with the gifts God has given us for them.

But if we aren’t trustworthy, if we are not willing to trust enough to give others the benefit of the doubt, then we will be confused and clumsy, broken and bumbling, rushing here and there blindly guessing the right way to go, and pitifully likely to fall into cunning traps and be taken into captivity by deceit.
Then God will only be able to talk to us in nursery rhymes, trite little aphorisms and petty, pint-sized instructions that fit perfectly in a Facebook meme.

Is that what we really want?

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