The Israelite in Me Recognizes the Israelite in You

- 4

Sometimes I think it must have been fun to be a Pharisee. It is sort of the way I sometimes feel when I see bimbo college girls.

Years ago, a friend was grieving over the shallow obliviousness of her younger sister, who was flitting her way through college paying little attention to anything that didn’t involve a hair straightener or a muscle bound boy. Now, I know with the majority part of my brain that this is not an admirable state of being. That these are girls who, by the grace of God, not only will have to grow up but will likely have to grow up with a grimace over the memory of their stupidity during their formative years. It probably stinks. But honestly, I never got to have those years and a part of me thinks it looks sort of fun. You know how God knocks the shallows out of you?

He throws you into deep waters.

Mine hit early, and so, classic ingrate that I am, I have a certain soft spot for airheads. God is good and even cheerleaders hit hard times, but it seems such a mercy that they are first given pom-pom and hair gel years.

Huh. I should probably clarify though… I am not saying the Pharisees are the cheerleaders of the new testament. I have no reason to think they had fabulous hair and if anything, they were the bookish sort of their set, most likely to wear a pocket protector than to be homecoming king. But there is something about them that gives me a similar sensation, that wow, I wonder if it felt good to be that dense.

Currently in the Bible reading challenge, I am listening to Moses’ record of the Israelites being brought out of slavery, doing some self-imposed desert wandering, and it is an astoundingly uncomfortable read. I flinch while listening — these are SO MY PEOPLE. I am exactly the kind of idiot who would gripe about being handed all I need to stay alive, never having to work to grow it or maintain the crop, and would look back on the good old days when I was worked to death, but there were leeks.


We, the Israelites and I, always want the trouble we don’t have.

And then they whine for meat and God literally piles up so much meat, that it is coming out their ears. And they remain pretty sure that He is going to forget to feed them the next day. The stupid… sigh… the stupid, it hurts.

And the Pharisees knew all this. They knew the full story of God’s faithfulness and His people’s faithlessness and yet somehow, they manage to maintain a bouffant level self-righteousness. How can you be reading any part of the story of God’s people and maintain any level of pride? That level of obliviousness is intense.

And again… relatable. Why must I also resonate the most with the bad guys of every plot?

While I definitely have the Pharisee capacity for pride and super duper un-self-awareness, it is the Israelites out in the wilderness that I am finding so painfully familiar today. God brought them out of slavery — He snatched them from the slobbering jaws of death, and in a way so glorious that not even their weary, burdened eyes could miss it. No one could miss it. I would tell you to ask an Egyptian, but they are busy rotting at the bottom of the Red Sea. God stopped at nothing to save His people and get this — that was only a shadow of the mighty saving He was going to do with His Son.

And yet.

This morning, I woke up and was flooded with a scent memory, some whiff of cold autumn air through the window, and I felt a pang of longing for a moment in time past. It took me back and in that split second, I ached to be elsewhere, ached to be who I was then — and may I be blunt? That time I was thinking back to? It was a miserable season. It was horribly lonely and dark. That moment in time, the cold air rushing to my face, took me back to a pitch black drive home in bitter winter where I was pleading with God to take me out of here. Ironic much? It is not lost on me. I am no smarter than the Israelites. I look back now and I can see that God took care of me, that He was building something in even that moment (in even this person), that He has succeeded where I never would have thought it possible — He even sanctified the memories and emotions of those days.

I am exactly that brand of faithless. I can be perched on the edge of milk and honey and mope because I miss leeks. Lord, have mercy. People, turn your hearts towards your King this day, towards Your Shepherd, towards the Rock who was struck for you, towards Living Water that will never run dry. Hear Him. Follow Him. And live.

4 Responses

  1. Ellen
    | Reply

    And, again, a feast of reading, this. How do you keep cranking out brilliance, day after day?

    • barb
      | Reply

      A constant diet of radical self-importance and danish. Or it isn’t all that brilliant, and you are just nice.

  2. Kelly Wunderwald
    | Reply

    Ellen is nice….and she’s also right in her assessment of your posts! Three thumbs up, sister!

    • barb
      | Reply

      You have no idea. Her niceness abounds, which is why she keeps me about as her person.

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