There are times, or seasons, for each of us when we feel distant from God. Whether it's the intense busyness of our days or the attractions and addictions to other activities, there are times when we drift away from Him. This quote by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov spoke to me today: "What if someone feels distant from God and Torah? Go to a Shabbos table and sing a melody. Sing it with zest and verve, with feeling from deep in your soul. That's the way to jump in!"
So what is the Rabbi saying? If you don't feel very spiritual, just join some others on Shabbat and sing a song? Why is God speaking to me so much about singing lately? Could it be that I hardly ever sing anymore, after forty-some years of music-filled life? As I sat pondering this, I ran across another quote from Rabbi Shraga Simmons, in a commentary on this week's Torah portion in Exodus (the passages on the crossing of the Red Sea). He wrote, "Unfortunately our lives are not equipped with background music reaching its crescendo to alert us that the "big moment" has arrived! Our only hope of escaping the confines of Egypt is to honestly confront our fears and embrace the opportunities that God gives us to grow. We cannot always know what's on the other side of the sea. But that's part of the beauty. It's our chance to become invigorated with the fullness of life!"
Grow! There's that word again! There's that thread the Lord has been steadily weaving through these blogs, singing in the impeded stream, hoping to "escape the confines of Egypt." We know that Egypt in Scripture represents "the world." And the Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayim, literally means a place of confinement. But are people in the world today really wanting to escape from Egypt? Or are they utterly content and satisfied to stay enslaved?
It appears as if a large majority of today's population have succumbed to something called the Stockholm Syndrome. This syndrome often grips those who are in prison, where their needs are provided for, no challenging decisions to be made, no deadlines to meet. The place of confinement becomes comfortable and feels secure. This is what happened to the Israelites when God was working to free them from slavery in Egypt, and lead them to freedom in the Promised Land. Even after their miraculous deliverance through the Red Sea, the incredible manna-bread provision in the wilderness, and the Rock that brought forth enough water to hydrate millions of Israelites plus their livestock, they grumbled. They wanted meat. They complained. They wanted to go back to Egypt where they had cucumbers, leeks, and melons. They preferred the old "hot and a cot" of slavery to their new-found freedom. Bill Cloud, in his teaching today, said, "It's odd that people who are enslaved sound like people who feel entitled. Migrants coming across our border who are given free food, free cell phones, and free hotel rooms, still complain. Surely they must be entitled to more from the Government!"
But many of us are waking up now and we are no longer satisfied to be distant from God or living in Egypt. We know there is a pool of God's glory and it's time to jump in! We know and believe that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is Mighty in power and getting ready to act on behalf of those who are singing in the impeded stream, singing with zest and verve from deep in our souls! We don't know what's on the other side of our Red-Sea crossing, any more than the Israelites could know - but that's part of the beauty. If we return to Him and trust Him - wholeheartedly trust Him as the only Source we need - we will confront our fears and embrace the opportunities that God gives us to grow! Jump in!
Kelly Ferrari Mills