Friday, October 18, 2013

The Challenge Continues, Day 285: Ezekiel 31-32; Psalm 84; Revelation 7

The "Best"
At any point in my life, and yours too I would wager, I have been a member of the "best" organization. It could have been the "best" school, the "best" club or fraternity, the "best" Church/Diocese/Parish, the "best" company, the "best" department/working group/team. Perhaps we have been citizens of the "best" town? How about the "best" county/state/region/country? Perhaps we were just that, participants and supporting cast-or even leaders-to an exceptional group in moment of history. That is most likely true for all of us at one time or another; but is that being "best" ultimately sustainable? At what cost to us and those around us when the worm turns and we find ourselves not so "best" anymore?

There is great cost to this desire to hold on to being "best" at all costs over and against a deep fidelity and humility in embracing the day God has given us. If we choose to put too much trust in the past, or forget our present in a desire for future glory then we loose touch with why we are here in this life in the first place: to make every moment count in relationship with God and with each other. As I grow older, I find that apart from anything else, that connection to God and to my neighbor is by far the "best" use of my time. When I forget that realization, then things quickly fall apart for me.

The Fall of Assyria
Egypt, Assyira, Tyre and Sidon, Edom, Moab, and finally Judah and Israel are falling or have fallen before Babylon. God, through the prophet Ezekiel, is offering us visions of the folly of nations coming to the end of their respective runs. As great and magnificent as any nation or empire can presume to become, in the end there will be another to rise and supersede them as the preeminent influence on the world. Still, to see a mighty empire stumble and fall is always a terrifying prospect. All that we know and appreciate as assurance, as re-enforcement of our knowing ourselves in the right place and at the right time is tossed up in the air, even as a field worker tosses threshed grain into the air to allow the chaff to blow off and the good grain to fall back into his basket.

We don't want to be chaff.

We don't want to be the felled tree.

We don't want to be the warrior, fallen and forgotten in defeat on the field of battle.

We don't want to be on the downside of being known to God, to the victor.

A Sparrow in God's House...
The choice apart from assertions of being the "best" anything is to recognize that there is only one place to be that is, truly, the "best" place to be. Look to the psalm today...the best place? Like the sparrow who has made her house under the eave of the altar in the temple, the psalmist opines that the only place that is anywhere is a place in the house of God. The only "best" place to dwell is with the Most High. The white-robed martyrs in Revelation know that truth, as do the elders who continually cast their crowns, their might and strength, to the ground before the throne.

I do believe in striving to do good, to build and plant and strive and innovate. I don't believe that any of that allows us to claim the title of being best, not by a long shot. That title alone belongs to God, and to God's work in our midst. The rest is our response to that grace, and our joyful connection to God through it and service to the Divine will and our neighbors.

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