September 3: no surprises

I have to admit that the times I’ve gotten sick came as no surprise. There were always symptoms. Often I failed to recognize them or failed to change my behavior to lower my risk and increase my immunity. There was the year I didn’t have time (at least that was my excuse) to get a flu shot and figured I was already stronger than any flu virus. Ha! I didn’t make that assumption again! Or the financial collapse of 2008. It seemed to come as a complete surprise until analyses showed that for years there were signs and even a few who predicted the collapse, but no one was listening.

Reading Ezekiel, it was no surprise that God would allow Babylon to be the sword of God’s judgment on Jerusalem. Look at how many prophets announced it would happen. For years upon years, the people were told what would happen and how they could prevent the inevitable from happening. But no one was interested in listening. Who wants to hear the bad news or to be told sacrifices must be made long before it becomes obvious to everyone? To be honest, I’m getting tired of reading the prophetic message. God, just do it and get it done! Ezekiel was part of the first wave already in Babylon, and even in exile the people thought it would be temporary. Judgment comes not as a surprise but as the inevitable consequence of refusing to heed sign after sign and symptom after symptom.

The other night I was watching a talent show on television. It took an entire hour just to announce the three finalists. I sat down to watch because I thought the three would be announced and then we would hear them perform. Not so. All four had competed on a prior night. It was not until the final minute that the third finalist was announced. And after 58 minutes building up to the announcement, we were forced to wait one more minute. Reading Revelation, we hear the Lamb will open seven seals. One at a time each is opened and we hear the message. Finally in chapter 8, it is time for the seventh and final seal. What could this final seal announce? We’ve been waiting. The time has arrived. Open the seal! The Lamb opens the seal – the final one – we’ve been waiting. But instead of being told, there is silence “for about half an hour”.

Today, I sense the call to be silent and to wait and in the silence and the waiting will come a message – God’s message. And without the silence and the waiting, I will miss the sign and not heed the symptom. Keep silent and hear the Word of the LORD.

Today’s readings: Exekiel 20-21; Psalm 111; Revelation 8


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