Friday, March 18, 2011

Taking it All for Granted

I'm taking the easy way out today, posting something non-cancer related that I wrote a few years ago. It could easily be applied to the blessings of renewed health.

Reading about the Israelites in the wilderness can make me feel very superior. What a bunch of whiners! Psalms 78, 105, and 106 rehearse the story briefly (for those of us not up for reading the complete tale in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). These psalms not only emphasize God’s faithfulness but also highlight the repeated failures of the people newly delivered from bondage in Egypt.
            “They forgot what he had done, and the miracles that he had shown them…. But they soon forgot his works; . . . [they] put God to the test in the desert; They forgot God, their Savior. . .They grumbled in their tents, …” (Psalm 78:11; 106:13, 14, 21, 25, emphasis mine [NRSV])
            They forgot it all: the plagues upon Egypt, the Passover, the Red Sea parting, manna, water from the rock. They got caught up in whatever was troubling them at the moment and forgot all the things God had done. They took that mighty power and protection for granted. I would never do that! I think smugly.
            I give myself too much credit. One sad thing about the human condition is our ability to take miracles for granted. The first morning that I spied three deer feeding out back, I could barely make myself leave the window or the apartment. I tried to take photographs of them through the window. I stood quietly for long moments, just taking in the wonder of their appearing in this, the eighth spring of my living here. For some reason, the leaves on all the young trees have been deemed tasty this year.
            They come frequently now, and I’ve put away my camera and gone about my work. I still talk to them through the glass, assure them of my intent not to harm, try to move slowly. But the day no longer comes to a complete halt until they move on. Oh, yes, the deer are here. Time for breakfast.
            I would have made a good Israelite, gasping in wonder at the first appearance of manna from heaven, then rapidly progressing (degressing?) to taking it for granted to grumbling about it back in my tent. Wonder and gratitude take time and discipline. When we baptize a person, we pray for them to have the gift of joy and wonder in all God’s works. That gift needs to be opened daily.

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