Monday, July 8, 2013

Then You Will Know

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.
Ezekiel 36:26-28

The man of clay stood slowly, testing his newly formed legs, his untried joints.  He stretched the bent places, and bent the stretched, celebrating the freedom he felt in the movement.  Placing new hands over new features, he explored the delicate eyelids, opening and shutting them beneath his palms, delighting in the feathery softness of lashes.  He pinched his nostrils, one, the other, then both together - snorting in surprise at his sudden inability to breathe.  To breathe - he swiveled his head down and watched as his chest rose and fell rhythmically - air in, air out.  Wonderful.  Marvelous.  Satisfying.

Son of Man.  A voice sounded.  He looked around - eyes adjusting to sun and shadow, leaf and sand,  ocean and mountain.  Mesmerized by the cacophony of images, the man of clay pushed the voice aside, choosing instead to examine all that he could see and touch.  Reaching out, his fingertips brushed the bole of a great tree, with rough ridges of bark marching vertically up and up. Pulling a tender branch close, surprised at the springiness, the flexibility, the strength of it.  And there was sound.  Glorious sound.  He could hear the muted thunder of waves, invisible to his eyes through the trees.  He heard birdsong, and rustling.  He heard the earth around him - sighing in the breeze, rocks and water, tumbling.

Son of Man.  The voice again.  The man of clay stepped away from the trees.  He looked back longingly - wistfully.  The garden was green and inviting, cool and refreshing - but he could no longer  ignore the voice.  The voice that lead him toward the sound of waves - rock and sea.  He felt the change on the soles of his feet - damp leaves  and silt gave way to dried mud.  He began to notice the pebbles, and learned to avoid the sharp rocks.  Trailing his hands as he walked through tall grass, he observed land features - rivulets carved into the surface, boulders strewn about.  He felt his breath shorten as he traveled up a rise in the terrain.  He began to feel sand - gritty and rough, first on his feet, then in the air around him as the breeze increased.  And then, like a new day, he saw the ocean spread out before him - waves, rhythmic, ever-changing, relentless - sea and sky.  He opened his mouth to sing.

Praise to the Living God.  Praise to the Creator.  Praise to the Lord of Light.  Words failed him.  Music failed him.  It wasn't enough - never enough to show his devotion, his love.  He was overwhelmed.  He was drowning in his inability to demonstrate how he felt - this life, this earth, this time and place.  This wonder.  This awe.

Time passed.  Son of Man.  Loneliness.  The man of clay gasped.  Bottomless, endless, eternal.  Inside his chest he sensed an emptiness, a gap, a widening chasm.  He was on his knees, facedown on a pinnacle of rock - ocean in front, garden behind, infinity inside.  The voice called.  Son of Man.  A twinge, a shift, a slight change.   I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.  The man of clay lifted his head, puzzled.   I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  The man of clay sat back on his heels.  The voice cut through his inner being, slicing him open from head to heart.  Pain - white-sharp and hot - there and then gone.   And I will put my Spirit in you...  

The man opened his eyes to the light of a new day.  Rested.  Peaceful.  Satisfied.  Finished.

I've been reading Ezekiel these past couple of weeks.  It is not always easy reading, full of doom and gloom for the people of Israel.  God was not happy with them.  They had strayed, and they had strayed far.  They had taken their status as 'chosen' for granted, and they had taken God for granted.  One phrase kept coming back in the reading, and it got me thinking about the nature of God and his people.    "Then you will know that I am Your Lord."  Finally, after so much repetition, it dawned on me that God doesn't like lonely - anymore than we do.  He pursues us.  Imagine that!  He loves us so much that he willingly gave a part of himself to us - to connect with us.  He gave us Jesus, a heart of flesh.  Imagine that!

Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus.  Help us to never take you for granted; 
help us to live to glorify you.

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