Boldly Curious

Reading for the day (Sunday, June 17, 2018):

Exodus 1:8-14; 3:1-15

 

Dear friends in Christ, grace to you and peace from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ.  Amen.

 

I can’t remember when, but at some point during my childhood, my parents replaced the front door of our house.  I’m sure it got replaced because was not very efficient and needed an upgrade.  Although, I don’t even remember what the old door looked like.  The new door is a solid white color with a half circle window towards the top of the door.  A window that only tall people can look out of.

This window is perfect for anyone who is tall and curious.  This house is at the top of a hill on a dead end street.  So growing up, this location was ideal for my brothers and me to play in the street and not have to worry about many cars coming up the street.  But living on a dead end street at the top of hill was not ideal for learning how to ride a bike.  Trying to keep your balance as you ride along the hill sideways proved to be difficult.

Like I said, living on a dead end street is usually pretty quiet.  Although, every once in a while, there would be a car that would not see the street sign that said “No Outlet” and they would drive up the street thinking that they could get to the next block.  And so, when you’re sitting in the living room in the evening and you hear a vehicle coming up the hill, what do you do?  Continuing to sit, watching your favorite show on TV?  Or get up and go look out the window to see who it is?  And which is easier, pulling the curtain back or simply taking a little peek out of the little window at the top of the new door?

Would you consider yourself to be a curious person?  How curious?  Curious enough to get up and peek through a window to see what’s going on?  Or curious enough to not only get up and peek, but get up and go right outside to see what’s going on?  If you’re anything like me, you’re fit more in with the first one.  You’re curious.  You want to see what is going on, but you don’t necessarily what others to know that you are looking.  That’s why you peek through small windows or pull the curtain back just enough to sneak a peek.  Like my children trying to sneak a peek into our bedroom when we are trying to get Christmas presents wrapped.

Today’s story is the beginning part of the Moses story.  First some background information.  The Israelites are in Egypt, away from their homeland because of a famine that led them to Egypt where there was food.  There was food in Egypt because of Joseph, one of Jacob’s sons, had earned favor with the king of Egypt.  So with the famine, Jacob’s whole family was invited by Pharaoh to live in Egypt.  And not just invited to live in Egypt, but to settle in the best part of the land.  Because of Joseph, Jacob’s family was respected and honored throughout the land of Egypt.

Fast forward a generation or two and a new king rose to power in Egypt.  This king did not know Joseph and all of the work that he did in saving not only the lives of the Israelites, but also the Egyptians.  Since this new king didn’t know any better, he viewed the Israelites as a threat – something to be controlled or they would control the Egyptians.  So Pharaoh ordered that the Israelites would all become slaves and do heavy labor.

It is during this generation that Moses is born.  Moses was born an Israelite, but raised in an Egyptian palace as Pharaoh’s grandson.  One day after killing an Egyptian for beating one of his own people, an Israelite, Moses fled the region because Pharaoh sought to kill him.  While he was away, Moses got a job as a shepherd.  One day, he was on Mount Horeb tending to the flock when he noticed a bush on fire.  But this fire was different than other fires.  There were flames of fire coming out of this bush, but the bush was not burning up or being consumed by the flames.  Moses was curious!  He couldn’t ignore this mysterious bush.  He had to go check it out, to see what was going on.

And what do you think Moses’ curiosity looked like?  Did he hide behind another tree or bush and gently push the branches back to sneak a peek at this bush that was burning?  Or did he walk right up to it to see what was going on?  All we know from Scripture is what Moses said after he noticed the bush.  Moses says, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.”[1]  We don’t know how he approached the bush, but I know how I would have approached the bush – similar to how I peek through the window at my parent’s house to see who is driving up the dead end street.

How curious are you when it comes to your faith?  Are you curiously shy – sneaking up just to get a small little peek at what’s inside?  Or are you boldly curious – confidently looking around and asking questions that come to mind?  If you’re curiously shy, then you’re one who sneaks a peek at worship – you come to hear a scripture reading or three, listen to a 10 minute sermon and then go home.  If you’re boldly curious, then you’re one who hears those same scripture readings and listens to the same 10 minute sermon, but then goes home thinking about what you’ve heard and going deeper into your own study of God’s Word.  Curiously shy keeps us from getting engaged in the text.  Whereas, boldly curious opens the door for us to become more engaged in God’s Word and to enter into a deeper relationship with our Lord.

It is curiosity that takes us further into an encounter.  If you’re curious about what is going on in your neighborhood, if you’re curious about what is going on at work, at school, at home, then your curiosity will drive you to get more information.  You’ll talk to people.  You’ll read the news.  You’ll ask questions.  Where there is curiosity, there is the potential for something more.  Without curiosity, you will gain no further information.  But as long as you are slightly curious, there is the potential for something more.

As we see in the story of Moses, our God works through curiosity.  When God saw that Moses stopped and turned towards the burning bush that is when God called out to him.  Through curiosity, God continues to reveal more about Himself and the more we know about God, the deeper our faith and trust is in Him.  Which brings us into a closer relationship with our Lord.

Our God not only loves you and cares about you, but He is also boldly curious about you.  He desires a close relationship with you.  As God told Moses regarding the Israelites, He knows their suffering.  He has observed their misery.  He has heard their cries.  And He has come down to deliver them from their oppression.  Our Lord knows our sufferings.  He has observed our misery.  He has heard our cries.  And through the birth of His Son, Jesus, He has come down to deliver us from that with oppresses us, our sin.

This God that we confess our belief in, is not only boldly curious about us, He is also a god of action.  God not only hears, but acts.  He heard the cries of the Israelites as they were slaves in Egypt.  And He acted by using a curious man named Moses.  We trust that our God also hears our cries for help and He acts by using curious people like you and me to carry out His mission as we answer the call to be boldly curious for the sake of God’s Kingdom.  Amen.

 

 

© 2018 Anthony Christoffels.  All rights reserved.

[1] Exodus 3:3, NRSV

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An Unending Promise

Reading for the day (Sunday, June 10, 2018):

Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7

 

Dear friends in Christ, grace to you and peace from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ.  Amen.

 

Last year, after Emma was born, I started working on a quilt rack for her bedroom.  I have already made quilt racks for Nicholas and David.  So I figured it would only be fair that I made one for her as well.  I’ve made a handful of these racks, so I figured this should be a rather quick and easy project to finish.  I measured and cut all of the parts and everything was going fine.  Everything was going fine that is until I screwed up.  Then when I tried to fix the screw up, I stripped the screw head – making it nearly impossible to get the screw out so I could fix the screw up.  I got so frustrated with it that I gave up on it.  Now a year later, the unfinished quilt rack is still in the garage.  The quilt rack keeps moving from one spot to another in garage.  Not moving towards completion, just moving when it gets in the way of other things.

It is frustrating when things don’t go the way we want them to go.  Do you ever get an idea in your mind as to how something is going to go and then when it doesn’t go exactly as planned, you get disappointed, frustrated, and upset?  Our story today is like that.  Abraham was chosen by God to be the “father of many nations.”  God chose him, and his wife Sarah, to create a whole nation.  It’s like starting a new colony and God chose Abraham and Sarah to be the first two people in that colony.  Now all they needed to do was to go and multiple.  And with no other previous experience to tell them differently, they trusted in God’s promise that they would be a great nation.

Now the only way to multiple and become a great nation is to have children.  And it wasn’t working.  But Abraham and Sarah still believed in God’s promise.  Eventually months of waiting turned into years, and those years of waiting turned into decades.  And as they aged, that belief in God’s promise started to weaken.  Their hope of having children started to fade as God’s promise continued to go unfulfilled.  How can you possibly create a whole nation when you are childless?  There is no possibility of future generations without at least one child.

After decades of waiting for God’s promise to be fulfilled, they eventually gave up on His promise for them.  And that’s when they took matters into their own hands – basically saying, “I’m not waiting around for you God any longer.  It’s time to take action.  And if you’re not going to, then I am!”  And that’s how their servant Hagar ended up having a son named, Ishmael.  Abraham and Sarah felt that they were ignored.  After all, they weren’t getting any younger.  Abraham was 86 years old and Sarah was 76 years old.  How much longer were they to wait for God’s promise to be fulfilled?  They felt that God had forgotten about them.

When things don’t go the way we expect them to go.  Or when life doesn’t go in the order or in the time frame that we set for ourselves, it’s easy to feel that God has forgotten about us.  When you’re hoping for a “yes”, and all you keep getting is “no.”  Hearing “no” can feel like absence or abandonment.  This leads us to get impatient; very impatient.  Impatience is what led to Ishmael being born.  We take matters into our own hands when we get impatient.  Why wait for someone who is never going to show up when you could just do it yourself?

It is frustrating when things don’t go according to our plans – when God’s timing doesn’t matchup with ours.  And even though things might not make sense now, know that your life is in God’s hand and in God’s time.

Thirteen years after Ishmael was born, the Lord appeared to Abraham.  Actually He really was there to visit Sarah, to tell her that He had not forgotten about her.  That His promise was still valid, and that she would finally have a son.  God’s promise was finally going to come to fulfillment.  Hope had finally returned.

Abraham’s visitors told him that his wife Sarah would in due season have a son.  Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent.  Upon hearing that she would bear a child at the age of 89, she laughed.  Sarah laughed because she thought it was impossible.  She laughed because after all of those years of pain, she had hope that joy would finally come in the form of a child.  She also laughed in disbelief.  Sarah couldn’t believe what she was hearing, that even in her old age God was giving her life, giving her hope for the future.  Sarah experienced unexpected joy.

Even though Sarah doubted, even though she laughed at the possibility that she would be a mother in her old age, nothing is impossible for God.  He turned around and blessed her abundantly.  Even though we doubt.  Even though we are impatient with God and we want the pain, we want the frustration, we want the challenge to be gone instantly – it’s not always in God’s timing to do so.  So whatever your situation, whatever it is that you are waiting for God’s answer to change from a “no” to a “yes” – remember that there is hope.

With Sarah, notice that God did not yell when she took matters into her own hands which resulted in Ishmael being born.  He did not punish her when she laughed at the possibility of bearing a child at the age of 90.  And God certainly did not revoke His promise to Abraham and Sarah when she did not believe.  That promise was made at the beginning when God chose Abraham to be the “Father of many nations.”  And that promise still stood.

God chose you when you were baptized and the promise to be with you forever still stands.  Even in your disbelief, God’s grace abounds.  He has not ignored you.  He has not abandoned you.  He has not forgotten about you.  God still upholds His promises.  He still graciously forgives you.  And God will still bless you abundantly.  Amen.

 

 

© 2018 Anthony Christoffels.  All rights reserved.