I will make sure that my people Israel know my holy name, and I will not let my name be disgraced any more. Then the nations will know that I, the Lord, am the holy God of Israel.”
The Sovereign Lord said, “The day I spoke about is certain to come….
The Lord said, “I will let the nations see my glory and show them how I use my power to carry out my just decisions. The Israelites will know from then on that I am the Lord their God. And the nations will know that the Israelites went into exile because of the sins which they committed against me. I turned away from them and let their enemies defeat them and kill them in battle. I gave them what they deserved for their uncleanness and their wickedness, and I turned away from them.”
The Sovereign Lord said, “But now I will be merciful to Jacob’s descendants, the people of Israel, and make them prosperous again. I will protect my holy name. When they are once more living in safety in their own land, with no one to threaten them, they will be able to forget how they were disgraced for having betrayed me. In order to show to the many nations that I am holy, I will bring my people back from all the countries where their enemies live. Then my people will know that I am the Lord their God. They will know this, because I sent them into captivity and now gather them and bring them back into their own land, not leaving even one of them behind. I will pour out my spirit on the people of Israel and never again turn away from them. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken.” (Good News Translation)
A lot of folks struggle with their relationship with God in trying to make sense of the hard things they go through. Some interpret their troubles as a punishment from God. Others resign themselves to the difficulty and, at best, believe there must be some purpose to it all; and, at worst, simply state in defeat, “It is what it is.”
God most certainly does allow some awful things to happen. Although the Lord is not the author of the evil, God providentially bends all circumstances for the divine glory and for our benefit.
We may still cry out and insist, “But why must God do it this way? Isn’t there another path than the one I’m on?” It’s not bad to ask those questions. After all, the Lord Jesus himself cried out, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup [of suffering] be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” And, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 26:39, 27:46, NIV)
In many ways, life is about detaching from all that hinders us from attaching to God. If we are mindful of this project, it’s likely we will realize a fulfilling connection with the divine. If, however, we lose sight of this, and become unaware of the vital relationship between God and humanity, then the Lord loves us enough to work on bringing us back into healthy relations.
It takes a lifetime of practice to let go and die to self.
And God will use every circumstance – both good and bad – to help us do that.
The Lord is glorified and shown forth as holy when we detach from all that is unhealthy and attach to everything that is just, right, and good.
God’s own Holy Spirit is the very person we need to guide us through each situation of our lives.
Typically, it is we ourselves who need to change, and not necessarily our circumstances. Yet, we too often fear change. The ego – the false self – hates change because it has bought into the belief that the outward projection of oneself to the world is the real thing (which it is not). Therefore, the ego tends to interpret each negative situation as an attack, rather than discerning that this might be the Lord getting at the inner heart of the person.
We must come to grips with the reality that one must change in order to love, and to love in order to change. Anytime we love someone or something else, we have died on some level; we let go of something so that we can grab hold of something else. The monkey who refuses to let go of the banana is trapped; the one who releases it grabs hold of freedom.
“Sin” is much less about moralistic religion, and much more about mistaking ourselves for someone we aren’t and not knowing to whom we belong. The ancient Israelites, whom the prophet Ezekiel addressed, had lost touch with who they are and whose they are. So, the Lord was determined to clarify it for them.
The realization of our true selves comes through love. And since God is love, knowing God enables us to regain our true essence.
The ego, although the necessary scaffolding for the emerging construction of the soul, must eventually be jettisoned. It would be weird if you erected a building, then kept up the façade. God is alive and deals with the living, and not the dead things around us.
Jesus said, “He’s not the God of the dead but of the living. In God’s sight all people are living.” (Luke 20:38, GW)
O Holy One, we call to you and name you as eternal, ever-present, and boundless in love. Yet there are times, O God, when we fail to recognize you in the dailyness of our lives. Sometimes shame clenches tightly around our hearts, and we hide our true feelings. Sometimes fear makes us small, and we miss the chance to speak from our strength. Sometimes doubt invades our hopefulness, and we degrade our own wisdom.
Holy God, in the daily round from sunrise to sunset, remind us again of your holy presence hovering near us and in us. Free us from shame and self-doubt. Help us to see you in the moment-by-moment possibilities to live honestly, to act courageously, and to speak wisdom. Amen.