The genealogies. The incessant cleansing rituals. The faithlessness of the Israelites. The obscure stories of Moabites, Philistines, Babylon. The seemingly endless cries for deliverance, and the seemingly languishing Father. The four hundred silent years.
The Old Testament seems to be endlessly confusing. The characters seem so far removed from our lives. The trials they face seem to be fairy tales, tales that couldn’t possibly be true today. God seems to speak loudly to them, and to whisper to us. The turning point for me, the moment that everything shifted from dusty, worn-out legends to a true interwoven epic was the moment that I realized that I am a player. I am David when in his desperation in En Gedi, he cries to God to save him from his enemies that have come to destroy him. I imagine him sitting on a rock outcropping, surrounded by flowing streams, writing of God’s living water. I imagine him watching from a cave as the sky lightens and the sun rises, writing “I wait for you, as the watchman waits for the morning.” I imagine his heart feeling at rest, seeing streams of water and a lightening sky as he realizes that the God who created these beautiful phenomena created him as well. I am David as he sits in a palace room alone, sure that God could never love him after what he did, lost in thought, playing absentmindedly on his lyre. I understand that I am him, and he is me, and every person that ever lived is part of a vast, embroidered, interwoven cloth of nature and of pain and of triumph. I am just like everyone that ever played a small or a necessary part in the Bible. Their story is my story.
They did not understand, either. They could not see that their small actions were crucial in order for the Messiah to arrive. Their love stories and their mistakes, all were necessary, all were made beautiful by Christ. Daniel’s unwavering faithfulness to his God is a call for me to not back down, to never give up. Miriam’s courage is a message for me to follow where God opens the door, regardless of people’s opinions, regardless of the seemingly insurmountable trials. I imagine her sitting in her small, mud or clay house in Egypt, staring out the window, knowing that her brother was an instrument of God to bring Pharaoh to his knees, wondering what would happen in the next few days. I see her anxiety of the future in myself, and I see my fear in her heart.
We are every one of us characters in an epic. The most dangerous thought we could adopt is the thought that what we do doesn’t really matter, that we are expendable, just another member of an ever-growing population of utilitarian, capitalist consumers. We are so much more. We are David, Miriam, Daniel. We are Mary. We are every one of us miraculous creations, and to cheapen our purpose is to cheapen the magnificent God we serve.
Moses seems to have been caught in the same trap that many of us find ourselves in: the trap of thinking that God couldn’t possibly use us, that God wouldn’t want to use us on account of the fact that we are essentially useless and expendable. The harp-playing shepherd boy became the greatest human king to rule Israel. The stuttering murderer became an interpenetrated spokesman of light and of power.
As we always say, it’s the cracks that let the light come in. Maybe the cracks are the reason we can be used in the first place.