Stars and Rock – Br. Luke Ditewig

Br. Luke Ditewig

Genesis 15:1-6
Luke 6:43-49

When will it happen? How much longer? What’s coming? Part of our trouble is waiting, not seeing answers or provisions as we expect.

God promised Abram a son. Years had passed. Still nothing. God comes again in a vision and says: “Don’t be afraid.” Abram says: “What? You haven’t given me a son! I’m still childless. So my heir will have to be Eliezer, a slave born in my house.” How do you hear and see the tone? Perhaps angry, blowing up and shaking his fist. Perhaps dejected and slumping with head down.

God’s response is accepting and gracious: No. My promise is true. It’s ok you’re upset. Look up and count the stars. You will receive that much. Every day, look up and remember I am with you. I will provide.

Abram believed God. Here “believed” has the connotation of ongoing, not a one-time thing.[i] Abram continued to believe. While angry or dejected, while questioning with shaking fist or slumping head, Abram believed. While waiting for years, Abram believed. Belief and trust include doubt and struggle. They are not blindly ignoring the hard. Like Abram, believing and trusting God is an ongoing reliance and assured confidence in the midst of struggle. Trust does not deny struggle but indeed names the pain with continued expectation.

“Hear us, O God, have mercy upon us, for we put our trust in you.”[ii] Pray pain honestly. Keep walking expecting provision. Look at stars or ordinary everyday images God gives you. By them, remember how you have experienced God, what you’re thankful for, what you have received, trusting God will give more good.

See stars and rest on rock.

In the Holy Land, there is much solid rock, whether exposed, under a couple inches or under ten or more feet of soil. To build, one digs down however far it takes to have the foundation of solid rock. People build in the summer when it is dry not raining, yet it is hot. It is very hard work to break through the clay and dig down to solid rock. One may be tempted to skip the harder part, yet a sure foundation is essential to survive the winter floods.[iii]

Jesus said, “I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them.”            Hearing and doing Jesus’ words take great effort, like digging down through hard clay under hot sun. This parable ends Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain in Luke and another version ends the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew.[iv] Jesus ends much teaching with a call for necessary, risky, costly action.

Following Jesus is active engagement. Jesus teaches how to love, listen, be patient, forgive, and act with gentleness. Living like this, leaning into the struggle to live this way, saying a repeated “yes” to this rhythm of life is trusting, relying on God. These habits express confidence in Jesus who gives them. These patterns will help in later storms of life.

Isaiah prophesied God would give a foundation in Zion, a precious cornerstone. Many expected a literal place, a third temple. Jesus here also presents himself—“come to me”—as fulfilling that promise.[v] Writing to the Corinthians, Paul described Jesus as the foundation. [vi] Jesus both speaks words and is the Word. Hear and act, dig deep to the Solid Rock. As we shall sing: “Christ is made the sure foundation, Christ the head and cornerstone, chosen of the Lord and precious, binding all the Church in one, holy Zion’s help forever and her confidence alone.”[vii]

We put our trust in God alone. Our patterns won’t save us. Jesus does.

What troubles you today? What are you still waiting for? Dear friends, like Abram pray pain honestly. See stars or images that remind you of God’s promises. Dig deep striving daily to love, care, and serve as Jesus teaches. Rest, stand, sit, or lie down in surrender on the solid rock, Jesus Christ. In the midst of trouble, continue to trust God with us.

[i] Van Gerneren, Willem A., ed. (1997) New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, Vol 1, p432.

[ii] Our sung refrain for Prayers of the People on Tuesdays and Sundays in Lent.

[iii] Kenneth E. Bailey (2008) Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, p. 323-4.

[iv] Ibid, p. 321.

[v] Ibid, p. 327.

[vi] 1 Corinthians 3:11

[vii] #518 in The Hymnal 1982. Translated by John Mason Neale (1861) from 6th or 7th century Latin text.

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