Sunday, July 22, 2012

Unfamiliar Ground

You at the house, in the car, on the job be encouraged!  Kirk Franklin speaks those words at the beginning of his song Looking for You.  We are a people known by our location.  Probably every week if we really paid attention to this seemingly mundane occurrence, we would begin to see just how much we communicate who we are or maybe assumed by others who we are just by location.  I am reading a novel and one of the main characters has left New York City to return to her childhood city, Atlanta.  This character just happens to be an investigative journalist and while she is back in the south, totally a different mindset than the Big Apple, she's writing an ongoing column on suburbia seen through "alien" eyes.  As she accompanies her sister in the car on errands, life and business she sees the angle for her first story; bumper stickers, school info, those stick families along with dog and cat displayed mainly on the back of mini vans and the like, really tell more about us than we might imagine.  Her sister, unaware of the journalist's assignment, gives further insight into this phenomenon by telling her, the kind of car someone drives and where they live can give additional info and help with the profiling.  Where do their kids attend school?  Where do they go to church?  Where they shop, which grocery store the frequent...The journalist hones her investigative skills in rear of a car reading on her sister's friends.  More times than not, she is dead spot on even in the minutia of life not directly spoken from the back of the car. 

Sometimes we are known by remaining in a location; staying too long, getting too comfortable in our circumstances and locality.  After a bit, just the thought of traveling on is too much.  Too much even when our heart and mind line up to do that very thing, our want to is in order but we just can't.  We experienced this, AGAIN, this morning.  Last Sunday, we couldn't get the garage door to go down.  We moved, jiggled and spayed anything and everything that would move on that garage door.  In our frustration of finally getting the door to go down, we set off our alarm.  We didn't realize it until we returned home and saw the phone call on our machine.  All week long that garage door has gone up and down flawlessly, that is until this morning.  As we were walking into the garage I said to Roy I hope we don't have a repeat of last Sunday.  Boom!  Wouldn't you know it, we pulled out and then pushed the remote and the door wouldn't close.  Roy gets out of the car and starts spraying and playing with all the movable parts.  I for sure turned off the alarm and got out of the car to assist.  Again after ten frustrating minutes, the door finally closes.  Both weeks it would have been so easy to say, hey God's will.  We shouldn't go to church but each of these Sundays we had people we needed to give something to or things we had volunteered to do and staying home was not an option.  Besides, Dena is teaching a great study out of Ezra, who knew it would be so interesting, well I guess Dena did, and I don't want to miss Sunday School. 

These months I have before the Israel trip, I am trying to learn and have my heart and mind prepared for that journey.  These weeks that I have been low on energy from my heart racing all over the place has been a good time to sit and read.  I am reading all kinds of things but mainly I have been reading the Old Testament to get that sense and importance of place, of location.  One of the books I have been reading is Going Places With God.  It is a devo written with the Holy Land in mind and based on the author's numerous trips and travels through the land. 

"This book finds its roots in places God chose-literally.  The lands of the Bible offer more than a backdrop for the stories of the Bible.  These places played an integral role in shaping the lives of those who lived there.  God designed it so.  And for us, understanding how the land shaped its inhabitants gives us tremendous insight into understanding Scripture.  Even more, it provides us with a glimpse as to why God has placed us where we live today.

God takes us places we would never choose that we might become what we've always wanted to be-that is, all that He created us to be.  God is much bigger than we can imagine.  Thus, He wants for us more than we ever dreamed."

As any reader of southern literature knows, a sense of place is a main characteristic of southern writing and understanding.  Good grief, have we learned nothing from Tara and Scarlet?   Since the end of March, I have felt impressed by the Lord to investigate this sense of place, the landscape and the road(s) my feet and spiritual feet find themselves upon.  I am aware of the road signs and sign posts like never before in my life.  Just ask Lisa P how I take curves on the highway!  Journey, pilgrimage, walking, and traveling by no means is nothing new in the Christian analogy or metaphor, but it is a new reality to me.  It is with great interest as Dena teaches from Ezra that she keeps going back to the preparation for the journey to Jerusalem and what Ezra finds there is written about more than the actual journey.  We also looked at Isaiah 41 and verse 3b jumped out at me, "though he is walking over unfamiliar ground."  The NET Bible gives this commentary, this would mean the king, Cyrus, is a hyperbolic  description of advancing into new territory and expanding a speedy advance as if his feet are not even touching the ground by a way of not previously entering with his feet. 

So that is where I find myself, walking over, not on but over unfamiliar ground.  I know of a great many who are on their own specific journey with their own individual circumstances of walking over unfamiliar ground.  Maybe along the way we can all sing to the tune of Holy Ground, "we are walking over unfamiliar ground and I know God's presence is all around."  Would I chose this place where I am walking over unfamiliar ground if I had a choice?  Probably not, but God knows.  I will say that I did notice the road signs that warned of the chaos ahead and I am so thankful for that provision from God on this journey. 

Well Roy is on a very familiar journey right now.  A stop at the gas station and then picking up to go from the Chinese restaurant for dinner tonight.  We are so international, Mexican food for lunch and Chinese for dinner.  Still on the international theme, we said good bye, so long, farewell to our friends from France.  Hope they are ready for the coming deluge of friends who will suddenly feel the call to go to France.  I know we are feeling the call and they aren't even there yet.  :)

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