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Where Are You Going?

Exodus 16: 23- 36

Bake what you want to bake; boil what you want to boil; and whatever is left over, set aside and keep for the morning.

1 Peter 3: 13- 4: 6 (The Message)

Learn to Think Like Him

1-2 Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.

John 16: 1- 15 (CJB)

“Not one of you is asking me, ‘Where are you going?’

Sometimes I have no idea why a phrase stands out. I re-read the Old Testament passage 5 or 6 times, and no other phrase stepped forward— “Bake what you want to bake; boil what you want to boil….”

At first, I heard it as “You’ll do what you want to do no matter what I say, so go ahead. Fine! Nothing I say is going to stop you.” No matter what good intentions I might have, I’m still going to go ahead and do the same old thing. (This passage is about keeping the Sabbath, so the idea was to cook two days’ worth of food so that no work would be done on the rest day.)

Then, I had a notion that the reason it jumped out at me was because of the implications of waiting. If I cook the same old thing, but I don’t eat it right away and instead wait and save it for the next day, it breaks the immediate association between cooking something and eating it. It will have sat there overnight, waiting, and when I come to eat it, it won’t be the same as the food I cooked and ate immediately the day before. If I apply this notion to my ideas and preconceptions; my assumptions and my habits; then what I get is something like the old advice to “sleep on it.” If I cook up an extra helping of some idea that I’ve always had, and save it for the next day, then somehow when the next day arrives, the idea doesn’t look quite the same. It’s lost some of its familiarity and it looks different when I open my notion-pantry to take it out. The whole habitual sequence lies exposed to my understanding, and because there is this gap of waiting, whole patterns of assumption are disrupted. Now there’s a model for a spiritual Sabbath for you!

That segues neatly into the New Testament passage. “a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way.” Hmmm... If I cook up a set of notions, but then wait until the next day to act on them, is it possible that doing so will enable me ‘to live out my days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what I want.’? Whoa, let me think about that for a minute!

Finally, there is the New Testament reading. I have no idea why that phrase was the liminal one, but it had the most powerful resonance of all. “Not one of you…”! In my current situation, it is certainly easier to whine about how painful it all is and to grieve for what I’m losing, just like the disciples were grieving because Jesus was ‘going away’. It stopped me cold.
Why am I not asking Christ “Where are you going?”

Sometimes the Friend is right there looking at me.

Not looking away, just sitting there watching me.

Not saying anything, while some question fades into stillness.

Sometimes there is a finger pointing at something that should have been obvious.

Sometimes there’s only the pressure of silence.

Not listening, not looking, not holding still—

That’s me, wanting my own way.

Listening, looking, holding still—

That’s me, seeing what’s really on my plate.

And finally, it occurs to me to ask, “Where are you going?”

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