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Rain Check

Psalm 50

14 Offer thanksgiving as your sacrifice to God,
pay your vows to the Most High,
15 and call on me when you are in trouble;
I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”

Exodus 34: 1- 17

15 Do not make a covenant with the people living in the land. It will cause you to go astray after their gods and sacrifice to their gods. Then they will invite you to join them in eating their sacrifices,

1 Thessalonians 2: 13- 20

13……. when you heard the Word of God from us, you received it not merely as a human word, but as it truly is, God’s Word, which is at work in you believers.

Matthew 5:21- 26

23 So if you are offering your gift at the Temple altar and you remember there that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift where it is by the altar, and go, make peace with your brother. Then come back and offer your gift. 25 If someone sues you, come to terms with him quickly, while you and he are on the way to court; or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer of the court, and you may be thrown in jail! 26 Yes indeed! I tell you, you will certainly not get out until you have paid the last penny.

I’m feeling a bit abrupt today, and not inclined to burble on about my interpretations.

The Psalm says to me that I might as well quit dwelling on my misery and ‘pay my vows.’ I also noted that in the very next breath after the instruction about offering thanksgiving, the psalm says ‘when you are in trouble.’ My Zen buddy Rensho posted a thing on FB about how “life always gives us the teacher we need.” So, my inference is that when we are in trouble and call on God, then God will show us how our troubles are exactly the teacher we need. Also, I noticed that God promises to deliver us, not to comfort us, pamper us, or make excuses for us.

The reading from Exodus says to me that it’s always a bad idea to make covenants with other people when their first priority is ‘living in the land.’ I did that, I made a covenant with someone whose intentions I mistook; who failed in her promises; and whose choices I am not capable of understanding. It did indeed “cause me to go astray after their gods, and sacrifice to their gods.” In the simple fact of sharing a household there were a hundred and one different ways in which my own good intentions got laid down as infernal paving stones. I always liked that saying, and I think I’m going to dig it out of the bottom of my theological junk drawer, dust it off and hang it on the wall for a while— “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

The reading from Thessalonians says to me that whether I cooperate or not; whether I understand or not; whether I’m aware of it happening or not; the living Word keeps right on working in me through the agency of my trust in God and God’s trust in me. I don’t have to do a single thing except to keep on keepin’ on.

Matthew’s Gospel says to me, “See how right I was?” It doesn’t quite sound like “I told you so,” but close. I am doing my best to answer by scrambling to “come to terms” in every way I know how. I mean that literally! Fairness is beside the point when it comes to legal stuff. Once lawyers come into the picture, then everything else loses importance compared to the effort to stay out of court. All I can say is, that it’s a really good thing that I am practicing non-attachment to material things, and that I was already pursuing the ideal of a simple, minimalist lifestyle.

I’m doing my best to avoid the trap of saying to myself, “What a naïve fool I was!” That brings me back full circle to the Psalm:

I’m sticking it out, okay? —

Not by bragging on how I always keep my promises,

but by getting out of the way and letting my promises keep me.

And yeah, I’m calling on you, big time!

So, deliver me already!

Just let me out, and quit teasing me

with that old light at the end of the tunnel, will ya?

And I’d be glad to give you a rain-check for that honor—

it’s just temporarily out of stock.

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John 1:19-28 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
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English Standard Version (ESV)
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