Great Hope in Dark times found in… the tithe? (huh????)
Thoughts to encourage us to cling to Jesus… and adore Him.
24 “Now when the LORD your God blesses you with a good harvest, the place of worship he chooses for his name to be honored might be too far for you to bring the tithe. 25 If so, you may sell the tithe portion of your crops and herds, put the money in a pouch, and go to the place the LORD your God has chosen. 26 When you arrive, you may use the money to buy any kind of food you want—cattle, sheep, goats, wine, or other alcoholic drink. Then feast there in the presence of the LORD your God and celebrate with your household. 27 And do not neglect the Levites in your town, for they will receive no allotment of land among you.
28 “At the end of every third year, bring the entire tithe of that year’s harvest and store it in the nearest town. 29 Give it to the Levites, who will receive no allotment of land among you, as well as to the foreigners living among you, the orphans, and the widows in your towns, so they can eat and be satisfied. Then the LORD your God will bless you in all your work. Deut. 14:24-29 NLT
What grief and despair did Lazarus feel in his last hours, knowing that Jesus could have come and did not come? This divine action challenges our idea of God, our idea of Jesus Christ, our idea of the spiritual life. Surrender to the unknown marks the great transitions of the spiritual journey. On the brink of each new breakthrough there is a crisis of trust and of love.
This mornings devotional readings seemed. all over the place. As is my preference, I try to put together what I read into one thought. into one concept, that I can apply to what I will encounter that day. Today,
This morning’s devotional readings seemed. all over the place. As is my preference, I try to put together what I read into one thought. into one concept, that I can apply to what I will encounter that day. Today, finding that message seemed challenging, none of the readings, from scripture, and from the sections of devotional reading came close.
My heart resonated with Keating’s words about suffering, about what went through the heart of Lazarus as he waited in vain for Jesus to come. We read it an know Lazarus will rise from the grave, but he did not, for neither did his sisters. How dark that road must have seemed! How lonely and forsaken. So our days, our roads seem at times, as we suffer, as our hearts cry out… and there is no answer.
I think then of the tithe, something we don’t understand all that well. At least the tithe Moses describes. Imagine working hard, separating out the tithes, and then realizing you must leave everything behind, and journey over steep mountains to get to a place – to present the tithe. It takes faith to leave home and flocks and fields behind. It takes trusting God to make the rugged journey as well.
But then, the reason for this tithe (there were several) was to throw a party, to celebrate in the presence of the Lord! To use all that was to be sacrificed, but the sacrifice was to celebrate what God had provided (and was taking care of in your absence!) Is this a forerunner of the feast in Heaven? Perhaps… no probably.
Amid feelings to the contrary, in the midst of pain, grief, sorrow, and even depression, the idea of that tithe is powerful. That God wants this celebration – all the best food, the best drink, reminds us that the journey is not the destination. That the suffering and darkness will give way to light, and a life of great joy. That even the power of sin will be silenced, and the guilt, shame and resentment it causes is erased. For we will be in the presence of God…. God who loves us.
The answer to our darkness and despair always comes as we find ourselves being moved to the celebration, to the feast, to the moment where everything else is left behind to know He is God.
Soon my friends, the party will begin, and from the blessings God has poured out on us, we will bring to celebrate with Him. Invite the stranger, the alien, the pastor to, for together, we share in the love and glory of God. Till then, one step in front of the other, and think of the promised feast at the end of the journey.
Keating, Thomas. 2009. The Daily Reader for Contemplative Living: Excerpts from the Works of Father Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O., Sacred Scripture, and Other Spiritual Writings. Edited by S. Stephanie Iachetta. New York; London; New Delhi; Sydney: Bloomsbury.