[This post is the second in a series of devotions on forgiveness that I first published last year in a leaders' devotional book, "Disciplines 2013" from The Upper Room. This is based on a reading found in Joshua 5:9-12]
The Hebrew people had suffered it all. They had been free but famine drove them into hunger. Their hunger drove them into Egyptian slavery. In their suffering they cried out for liberation. Moses was sent to lead them to freedom. They discovered that freedom isn’t easy. Their wilderness wandering confronted them with fear and terror, anger and frustration. Their interminable wandering and fear stripped them of their dependency on slave masters and opened them to trust in the God who accompanied their ancestors Abraham and Sarah. They knew loss and pain.
But, now they were moving into the land that had been opened to them. They crossed the Jordan freed from their identity as slaves but uncertain of their identity as Israelites. They created new symbols to represent the journey. They reclaimed practices to remind them of their identity.
They discovered that, freed from their dependency on slave mentality, they were being called to a new beginning, a new self-understanding. They no longer could count on manna. They were now confronted with planting, harvesting and securing their own food. The work of deconstructing their identity as slaves was over. They were now in a land where they could construct a new people. They had work to do.
We too move through wilderness places where we lose our sense of identity and security. Like our Hebrew ancestors, we too experiment and learn from our experience. We too receive forgiveness from a wandering God.
But, then it comes time to embrace our freedom and contribute to the building of a new self. God works to help us forgive the past so it doesn’t control our future, but we have a responsibility to contribute to the emerging of the new self. What work are you now doing to create your grace-filled forgiven self?
Accompany us, good God, as we wander and embrace our new creative energy as we become your new creation.