March 6, 2012

March 6: Remember, but don’t turn back


By Heather Goertzen, resident director
SCRIPTURE: Exodus 20:1-17 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

In 2007-08, I spent a little over a year journeying the Exodus with my husband Wes and our own adopted hija (daughter). Older than both of us combined, Eliana had spent 40 years and more in her own “Egypts,” and bore the scars (visible and invisible) of a lifetime of slavery, prostitution and addiction. My husband’s and my Egypts were far less literal and far more of our own making, but still … we all needed this Exodus.

Every Tuesday morning we would huddle over coffee and Bibles, around the little table in our cold, high-altitude kitchen in El Alto, Bolivia. We were each other’s Moses, Miriams and midwives, in turn. We suffered our way through, prayed for the plagues to Passover, and attempted faith in a God who hears. We held our breath and danced with joy and relief. In the days in between, we whined and complained and threatened to go back. We witnessed miracles and promptly forgot them. We disregarded Jethro’s warnings and wore ourselves out. We lingered at the foothills of the mountain and waited for a Holy Word. And here, at chapter 20, we found ourselves, along with Israel, an amnesic, bi-polar, attachment-disordered, PTSD-ridden, Stockholm-Syndrome-soaked bunch, whom God was offering a new order.

Remember … but don’t turn back.

Some of us who’ve only ever known the framed, calligraphied, proof-texted “Thou-Shalt-Nots,” shrink from this law. But for those who have known the weight of their own slavery, the blood and mortar of Egypt, this new order is a welcome word – its own overturned table – an anti-Egypt; a new rule of identity, freedom, memory, rest and peace. In it, we are protected and named people of honor and nonviolence, truth, fidelity and contentment.

Hear, O Israel …

SCRIPTURE: Exodus 20:1-17 (NRSV)
1 Then God spoke all these words: 2 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; 3 you shall have no other gods before me. 4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, 6 but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. 7 You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name. 8 Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 10 But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it. 12 Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. 13 You shall not murder. 14 You shall not commit adultery. 15 You shall not steal. 16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.



Comments (20)

  1. very deep and thought provoking. Makes me ponder the many deserts I’ve wandered in. Especially like your discription in all our modern terms of disfunctionalism

    Pastor Karen March 6, 2012 |
  2. Amen, thru the new order, we can have peace. thank you for sharing life experience and encouragement with us this morning

    jan March 6, 2012 |
  3. Thank you for such deep thoughts. I really am reminded that I am on a journey and want to know what it is that pleases my creator. I am so thankful for the very words of God printed for me to read. However in this age of many gadgets I can forget that God is a jealous God and wants ALL of me to worship HIM ONLY.

    Betty March 6, 2012 |
  4. Beautiful reminder, transpearently written and miraculously touching. I can’t wait to go out and share the good news today.

    Karen Hernandez March 6, 2012 |
  5. Wow. What a stop-me-in-my tracks devotional on Exodus. Thank you for making the Word so fresh.

    Laura Jernigan March 6, 2012 |
  6. Thank you Heather. Very well said.

    Dave Shephard March 6, 2012 |
  7. Powerful, profound words.

    mjlh March 6, 2012 |
  8. Heather, You have beautifully made this ancient Holy story, our story, a truly archetypical story for all humankind, whatever our faithful and fateful journeys. Thank you.

    Jim Brenneman, GC President March 6, 2012 |
  9. What a richly wrought image of Exodus and the law as Love. Thank you!

    Heidi Siemens-Rhodes March 6, 2012 |
  10. Bless you, Heather. What a powerful reminder that the trials and difficulties of the Wilderness Journey are still better than the slavery of Egypt; and that the land of Promise still awaits! Praise the Lord!

    Dickie Siler March 6, 2012 |
  11. Awesome! Really enjoy the way you spoke truth to my spirit today. What a beautiful light shining out of YOU!

    Jen March 6, 2012 |
  12. Thanks for sharing this. Well said. I can identify and will “chew” on it some more.

    Diana March 6, 2012 |
  13. Beautifully written Heather! Thank you for the reminder to remember–but not turn back.

    Rose Shetler March 6, 2012 |
  14. Thank you Heather for your deeply moving and inspirational sharing of truths. I am grateful to you for your words expressing the profound meaning of exodus and journey that each of us encounters.

    marjorie March 6, 2012 |
  15. I just finished a class on the Pentateuch at Fuller Seminary and found your writing to be a wonderful synopsis of my class. I was particularly touched by your comments of being Moses’, Miriams, and midwives to each other. Thank you for your wonderful words of God’s faithfulness.

    Carolin March 6, 2012 |
  16. There was something very special about your message today. It spoke to me in a way that none of the others have. Thanks for the thought provoking ideas regarding remembering God’s faithfulness in releasing us from our Egypts.

    Theo Yoder March 6, 2012 |
  17. I started reading the Devotional before realizing who had written it, but it didn’t take long before I recognized the writing style and deep words spoken from within an experience lived…Word Made Flesh. Thanks Heather. Your words captured and moved me today as did your writings in The Cry.

    Carol Janzen March 6, 2012 |
  18. A beautiful way to think of the Commandments; they do set us apart as a privileged and chosen people. May the experience and memories of Eygpt keep us clinging to the One who knows and loves us and calls us to follow Him.
    Thank you, Heather.

    Ruth March 7, 2012 |
  19. I love the way you use words reminding us that this world is not our home, we’re just passing through. May we continue to go forward ever and backward never!

    Greta March 7, 2012 |
  20. Much going on here. Thank you for writing of it and calling us to read the Exodus. Remember, indeed, and yes, do not go back. Peace.

    Warren Bradbury March 7, 2012 |