Monday, April 28, 2014

Join me for this Exodus!

Exodus 14:19-20     "The angel of God,* who had been leading Israel’s army, now moved and went around behind them. And the column of cloud, moving from in front of them, took up its place behind them, so that it came between the Egyptian army and that of Israel. And when it became dark, the cloud illumined the night; and so the rival camps did not come any closer together all night long."

This part of the story of Exodus keeps playing through my head.  The Israelites (who are not the most trusting people) follow Moses out of Egypt, where the Egyptian Army is in hot pursuit. Pharoah is one angry little potato who feels he's been hoodwinked by these Israelites, and it's about to get Epic! I've heard this story lots of times.  The Red Sea parts, the Israelites pass through on dry land, and the Egyptian pursuers are drowned.  All of them. 

When I listen to Bible readings, I try to put myself in them.  I wonder where I would be.  This one was easy. A few verses earlier, the Israelites are (once again) complaining to Moses that he's going to get them all killed.  The Israelites are now following a pillar of cloud and fire!  They've been encouraged forward by a massive tower of cloud that leads the way and stands, unmistakeable, in front of them. It's easy to follow the fire!  It's easy to follow the power when it's in front of you, and it shines in favor of YOUR TEAM!  But then it changes...

The cloud moves behind them and it becomes dark.  Some translations describe it as a massive storm cloud that lights up the night sky and keeps the camps apart.  So here's me.  "Greaaaaaaat. So much for the pillar.  We're all gonna die.  Thanks a lot, MOSES." (I might be a little Isrealite-ish.) How many times have I lost sight of my pillar?  How many times have I felt like I have no direction, and no idea which way to turn?  How often is the power NOT right in front of us?  

I have those days.  No clue.  I feel so alone.  The love I was travelling with can't be seen, so I question if it's gone.  Then I read the rest of the verse.  The cloud comes around behind us with a great purpose. The pillar of cloud, the "Angel of God" has moved from in front of me, to stand between me and those that would pursue me and enslave me and threaten my life! I was never alone.  I was safe. Protected.  The One that loves me into existence every moment stands guard, whether I can see it or not.  

I am learning to trust that when my pillar is missing from sight, God is actively standing between me and my foes, so that "the rival camps would not come any closer together all night long."  I guess that makes every day a good day to be on God's team.    

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Please, Have (Divine) Mercy!

Today is a really special day.  It is Divine Mercy Sunday.

It's not a Hallmark holiday, and you'll probably never receive a "Happy Divine Mercy" card.  There's no special donut, or cake, or even a special dance, but for me, this is one of the most important days of the year.  Divine Mercy has saved my life, my soul, and restored my hope, and THAT, dear reader, is worth celebrating.

There was a very surreal day years ago, when Harriett was the baby.  Luke was in Delaware for a business trip, and he was expected back that weekend.  I had been single-parenting for the week while he was gone, and anticipated the joy of morning sickness with the 9 week old fetus I had recently confirmed I was carrying.  Baby #6!  I was so excited! The kids were playing, and all was well, until things got weird.

Lydia came running into the room yelling about a tiger trying to get the treasure, so she hid it and now she couldn't get it back, and she needed my help NOW because she needed the treasure back!  Turns out, that is Three-year-old Lydia code for "Mom, I put a button up my nose and it is now stuck."  This was the first time anything like this happened during office hours, so I was feeling pretty confident about the whole thing.  We got to the doctor's office and I stopped to use the restroom.  I didn't expect to find blood.  I knew right away what was happening, but everything in my heart and mind pleaded, "NO!!!", even as my body cramped up into an unmistakable, "Yes".

We both went to the emergency room at the hospital, where she was given multiple doses of Versed, and still wouldn't go down.  She staggered like a drunken sailor, but wouldn't be still enough for the button to be extracted from the soft tissues of her nasal cavities.  (It was surgically removed the next day.) I received an ultrasound that confirmed my fears.  The baby was dead.  I had to call Luke and tell him. There was no surgical removal for me.  I spent the next 3 days at home, in labor, delivering the tiny remains of my hopes and dreams for this little person and what his life would be like.  I was in and out of the emergency room as the bleeding got intense, and then it was over.  My soul was crushed. My hope was gone.  Nothing much mattered.

During the time that all of this was happening, I received a package from my Aunt Patty.  She had no idea what was happening, but she sent me a booklet she had found among my grandfather's things.  It was called "The Divine Mercy", and told of Saint Faustina Kowalska, and her visits with Christ.  He offered her prayers to share with the world for Mercy.

That was exactly what I needed.  Mercy!

Mercy from this despair!  Mercy from this desolation!  Mercy from the pain and disappointment!  Mercy for a child I would never hold!  Mercy that his little soul would wait for me in Heaven, and we would meet one day!  Regular Mercy can't do that.  Only Divine Mercy.   How I needed that Divine Mercy!  And as much as I needed it, the prayers weren't for me:

 "For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world!" 

I prayed it again and again, through the pain.  I prayed it through the anger, with clenched teeth.  I prayed it expecting the whole ordeal to be a bad dream, and that God would set it right, and I'd wake up pregnant.  I eventually prayed it with abandon through tears, giving up everything. I prayed it allowing myself to be carried by the God who loves me, and is the source of EVERY Grace and Mercy.  I prayed it until I wore the paint off my prayer beads.  Then I prayed it some more.  

Divine Mercy.  

It was AND IS the only thing that keeps us going.  Is that the kind of Mercy you need today?  Is it the kind of Mercy you'd like to show to someone else?  Try it.  One time.  While you pray it, think of the ones most in need of His Divine, all-encompassing Mercy that is greater than mourning, greater than anger, greater than death itself.  Be blessed.