Bread – Caught

November 8, 2013

Readings for Friday, November 8, 2013, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Ezra 7:27-28, 8:21-36; Rev. 15:1-8; Matt. 14:13-21; Psalms 69,73


In our reading from Ezra today, he is ready to take his journey from the king to Jerusalem. He is carrying a bunch of gold and silver. There are enemies of the Jews on the way and there are potential villains, bandits who would ambush him and his party for the gold and silver they carry, if nothing else.

And, faced with this reality, Ezra is caught. Should he line up some protection, should he ask the king for soldiers to protect him and his party? I am sure that the king would have granted his request, but there is a problem. Let us dive into Scripture to see what the problem was:

For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, ‘The hand of our God is for good on all who seek Him, and the power of His wrath is against all who forsake Him.’” Ezra 8:22

Whoops! Ezra has told the king that God was all-powerful and now Ezra has to go into bandit territory with his gold and silver. He has a choice, reveal his hypocrisy by asking for soldiers to “help” God to protect or just trust God with his protection. Ezra chooses to avoid the double-talk by calling a fast to pray: “Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods.” Ezra 8:21.

When I consider why my Christian walk is as weak as it is, why I compartmentalize Sunday from the rest of the week, why I read Scripture with earnest, burn it into my heart and mind, and then blithely ignore it in daily affairs, I wonder if it is because I am trying to avoid being caught in the dilemma of being a Christian – do I trust God or others (including myself)? Do I trust Him for my daily bread, really? Do I trust Him for protection, really? Do I trust Him for wisdom, really? Do I trust Him for salvation, really?

There, I (and we) are caught with the bright light shining upon our hypocrisy, upon our saying one thing and then acting like we didn’t say it, upon our disbelief in our own stated beliefs.

Perhaps one day there will be identity between what I believe and what I do. Perhaps one day I will so learn to trust God that I will do what Ezra did, radically rely upon Him and Him alone for my preservation and safety. In the meantime, I will fail and, if I am honest, I will be caught in the hypocrisy because that is what I am, a sinner, a hypocrite, an imperfect follower of Christ.

And what can I say about this? Thanks be to God that He does not need or even want my perfection in order to do His mighty work to save me from me!

We are caught, whether we admit it or not. We fall short, whether we admit it or not. We sin, whether we admit it or not. But, in the Holy Spirit, we can aspire to turn the moment from reliance upon me to reliance upon Him, we can line up in this moment our actions with our beliefs. We can pray that we, in the power of the Holy Spirit, take this moment of self-reliance and turn it into a moment of Jesus-dependence.

See, we are surely caught, but not in the condemnation of sin but in the grip of Him Who died for us and Who raises us, protects us, loves us, sustains us, and delivers us.

Ezra realized that He was caught in the horns of a dilemma, but also caught in the hand of God Who would not let go.

Who have you been caught by today? Satan who would whisper to you that there is nothing to be caught for? Our own sinfulness, where we are caught up in self-analysis over our own shortcomings? Or our God, where we are caught up into new life in Him?

You are caught. But by whom and for what?


© 2013 GBF


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