Just around the Riverbend
Everything can be new. The past is important, of course. The past tells us how God has been at work in our story. It gives clues about who we are, and who God is. We retell those stories because they not only form our identity, but they remind us of key episodes in our own story. Those narratives are vitally important and we ignore them at our own risk.
The Exodus story is referred to in our text from the prophet Isaiah this morning. Exodus is at the center of the story of Israel. The story of God’s care about their suffering, and deliverance of the people provides a sense of security. God CAN be trusted because God HAS been trustworthy.
But now…. God is doing a NEW thing. There’s a freshness to God’s ways – new possibilities we haven’t yet dreamed of. God isn’t finished. There was – and NOW
Marah water – NOW a river in desert
Way thru sea – NOW God as guide
Murmuring – NOW praise
It isn’t news that everything changes. We never step into the same river twice…but that can be a good thing. Especially when it is changes due to God’s activity, not just what seems the natural decline and death of human life. God is doing a new thing. People get ready!
The Greatest Adventures often begin with curiosity. Everything from falling in love – remember talking for hours on the phone? – to space exploration has begun with an almost insatiable curiosity.
That drive to know more, different things, has the capacity to take us out of expected paths. For Pocohontas, curiosity took her away from her family, her village, her continent to England.
Curiosity moves US out of safety, in order to explore. Curiosity helps us move past the ways we have done things, thought of things, in the past. Curiosity moves us out of complacency with how things are into new possibilities. We ask, “What if….?”
BUT. Of course, curiosity doesn’t guarantee that things will go smoothly. Stories of Curious George: mayhem, but new experiences and knowledge, and with the help of the man with the yellow hat – always restoration and forgiveness. Curiosity may get you into trouble. But it’s a risk you take to learn and grow.
What lies ahead on this road, we don’t know. (Isn’t that Wonderful?) Predictable path would be decline and death..but God tends to lead us to growth and renewal. The old things become new as God gives life…
Hear this Story by Walter Wangerin and listen – every person is suffering, but accustomed to it. They aren’t looking for new in their lives…but what a gift! Ragman.
“Rags! New rags for old! I Take your tired rags! Rags!” Tall, handsome young man came into town, pushing a cart of bright new clothes. Woman crying, heart breaking –her stained handkerchief weep Girl with bloody bandage, blood running down her cheek Man leaning against pole – jacket Drunk unconscious under army blanket – left clothes Weeping uncontrollably, bleeding freely, pulling cart with one arm, stumbling for drunkenness, falling again and again, exhausted – to landfill where lay down and died. And rose again two days later. New, carrying scars.[i]
What will we find down the road? Or past the riverbend? We don’t know. The questions are: Do we trust God enough to venture forward? Are we curious enough to take the risk? Do we long for a different way than the one we know? God will go with us – in fact, God is already there calling to us. Can you hear?
[i]Walter Wangerin, “Ragman” in Walter Wangerin, Ragman and Other Cries of Faith. (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1984) 3-6. 1 Walter Wangerin