Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Across the River

          You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, 
declares the Sovereign LORD. 
 Ezekiel 34:31 (NIV)

A village lay alongside a wide, winding river.  It was an ancient village, and had seen many people come.  It had seen many people go.  Farmers, builders, artisans, speech-makers, and educators.  Growing and shrinking, growing and shrinking, the village adjusted to the winds of change and the sands of time.  It remained at peace and it prospered.

Across the wide, winding river was another village.  Also ancient.  A sister-village, similar in all respects except one.  This village was no longer at peace.  This village no longer prospered.  For whatever reason, for whatever vagary of fortune, this village had become a war zone of poverty and violence.

As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. 
 I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.
Ezekiel 34:12 (NIV)

The children were the first to suffer.  Bellies aching from hunger, souls sickened by fear, they stopped singing.  They stopped dancing.  They stopped feeling.  Helplessness led to hopelessness; the darkness of the village was a looming, endless thundercloud of sorrow and despair.

I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, 
and I will bring them into their own land. 
I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, 
in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land.
Ezekiel 34:13 (NIV)

There were only two ways out of the village of tribulation; death was the easier. The harder way, the longer way, the nearly impossible way, was to cross the river. Cross the river to the promised land, the land of milk and honey. Freedom land.

They tried.  Wave upon wave of mothers and children tried.  They strapped on sandals, sandals of peace, and they walked, daring to hope for a better life, a better way.  They traded helpless for courage, and hopeless for faith, and they walked.

Yet the darkness followed.  Loss of life and innocence, like twin plagues, accompanied the hapless pilgrims on their journey.  Hunger was a constant companion.  But the travelers helped each other through the difficulties and the many who made it, gathered at the river's edge.  Cross the river to the promised land, the land of milk and honey.  Freedom land.  These were the thoughts that built the rafts; these were the images that fueled the boats.  Dreams of a better life.

I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of savage beasts 
so that they may live in the wilderness and sleep in the forests in safety.  
I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing. 
I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. 
The trees will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops; 
the people will be secure in their land. They will know that I am the LORD, 
when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them. 
They will no longer be plundered by the nations, nor will wild animals devour them. 
They will live in safety, and no one will make them afraid. 
I will provide for them a land renowned for its crops, 
and they will no longer be victims of famine in the land 
or bear the scorn of the nations. 
Then they will know that I, the LORD their God, am with them 
and that they, the Israelites, are my people, declares the Sovereign LORD. 
Ezekiel 34:25-30 (NIV)

Those who lived to finish the journey rejoiced. Welcomed by the sister-village on the other side, they began to heal. The children grew, they shared in song and dance, the valley through which they had come. And the village adjusted to the winds of change and the sands of time. It remained at peace and it prospered.

Heavenly Father, Creator of all things, 
Heal us so that we can grow in compassion and grace, so that we can look beyond ourselves and our politics and give help to the helpless and hope to the hopeless.  Help us to spread your love and your peace beyond our own small horizons.  Help us to look across the river.  

Today I'm linking with Jennifer, and Beth.

NOTE:  The current situation of the un-documented immigration of children across our southern border is overwhelming and heartbreaking.  I just couldn't finish this story using today's headlines.  I can't imagine that sending these children and families back to the violence and poverty of their home is the right thing to do.  I understand taxes and paying for those who cross our borders; I understand working hard for my money... but I keep coming back to Jesus, time after time, saying 'give'.  He didn't say 'give if you want to'; he didn't say 'give as long as it doesn't disrupt your life', he said "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."  To understand more about the situation, you can read here and here.  In her blog Lisa Notes, Lisa informs readers about a way to help (without the political...).  


  1. So much heartbreak around us. :( I'm praying this with you, Janet...Heal us to spread Your love and look across the river!

    1. Lisa,
      Thank you - Sometimes prayer is the only offering I have. I am adding a link to your post so anyone looking can find a more hands-on way to help....

  2. Janet, this was a powerful message. Praying for us all to spead His love. Blessings.

    1. Hi Beth,
      Thank you - I think that's the prayer we need right now. I hope all is well with you, and hope you had a wonderful time with your family. Hugs - Janet

  3. Your words and story, these images and the words of scripture filling in the spaces, they compelled me as I read, Janet. I didn't know, until the end, what people you were writing of... but then, it brought tears to my eyes. My husband is from Mexico. And though he did not come from the poverty that these ones are experiencing, he has told me stories and knowing him has opened my eyes and my heart to our neighbors there. And these borders, they break my heart, these barbed, bloody fences meant to "shelter" us and keep desperate ones out. Thank you for sharing this story, for bearing your heart, so that we might feel some of the weight of this.

    1. Amber,I think it is difficult for most Americans to realize how truly blessed we are to live in this land of milk and honey - we've always had so much. I think about that Matthew West song - asking God to do something - and the song says he did. He did. And he does, but we have to do our part, too. There's a story about heaven and hell, maybe you've heard it - the setting is a banquet with wonderful, bountiful food and drink, but the people at the table have their arms bound so they can't bend them to put fork to mouth. In hell, they starve, mouths watering. In heaven, they feed each other - they don't need to bend the elbow to reach across the table to their neighbor. I cry tool - Praying and writing are two things I know I can do - I wish we would reach across the table...

      Thank you for visiting and for opening your heart...

  4. Replies
    1. Thank you, and thank you for hosting so we can share these things that are on our hearts.


I know we probably haven't met in person, but I believe that the sharing of our ideas and thoughts, sometimes our hearts and souls, makes us more than strangers. I would like to say friends. Thank you for taking the time to contribute to my little space - I appreciate you.