Weekly Bible Devotional
“The Bible: The Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary”
January 24, 2021
Scripture: Joshua 3:5
5 Then Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”
Notes on the Text:
Richard Rohr writes this: “We don’t turn to the Bible for a set of correct beliefs. Instead, the Bible invites us to see with a new set of eyes – because God is actually very different from what we imagine. Instead of condemning us, God is inviting us into a world of mutuality and vulnerability.” And so we come to our Bible reading for this week seeking a transformed vision of the world where we see the sacred in the mundane; the extraordinary in the ordinary.
The Book of Joshua, which we are using for our reflection this week, is about the journey of the people of ancient Israel with God to learn to see the world through the eyes of faith where the ordinary becomes extraordinary. Their 40-year journey in the wilderness was ending, but another journey was beginning! They were about to enter the land that God promised them. This was a big step for them. The promise was made to them when they were enslaved in Egypt. It was about to be fulfilled. They had been through a lot in the wilderness where they had to learn to let go of their enslavement mentality of fear and subordination. They had to learn the new ways of God’s love and justice under the leadership of Moses. They had to trust in God’s provision for them every day through the gathering of manna for food. They had to learn the law of God by heart. And here they were, under the leadership of Joshua, taking a new step on their journey as a people. Joshua was the leader who followed Moses. He was the one who was going to help them enter the land. Joshua was the one blessed by the Holy Spirit and commissioned by Moses to help lead the people on the rest of their journey. The key was for them to see the hand of God in every experience.
Their freedom came from God’s love for them which took away the disgrace of their slavery in Egypt and provided them with a new way to build their nation, a way of justice and love. The people had to learn and relearn this lesson because it was not easy. There is always a temptation in our lives to confuse the joy of the presence of God in our lives with our needs for success, security, and esteem. We confuse what is true with what is false.
In order for the people of God to receive the gifts God was about to give them, they needed to trust and to open themselves to such gifts. They had to see life through the eyes of faith. They had to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. By putting one foot in front of the other and taking the next step of faith, their lives were transformed. By letting go of their security and fears, they were able to receive a new of life. Richard Rohr writes, “The idea here is sacrifice…’to make holy.’ The right meaning of sacrifice has little to do with suffering, which is often the connotation we give to it. The biblical concept for sacrifice has everything to do with trusting in God. It is entering wholly into a holy state of confidence that God can provide us with what we are giving up.” Therefore, one of the great themes in the Bible is about sacrifice. Sacrifice is about trust. One of the best ways to describe sacrifice is this: Giving up something important for something more important. In the act of giving up lies our ability to trust and to open ourselves to God’s extraordinary presence. Sacrifice and giving up our ways of power, control, or personal esteem will always lead us to seeing life through the eyes of faith.
Sacrifice is not always easy for us. The false security of holding on to what we know often gets in the way of our ability to see God in the moment. Our illusions of power and control are often so hidden from us that it takes acts of intentional letting go, of sacrifice to be able to see.
The lesson about preparing ourselves to see the sacred in the ordinary has to be learned over and over again. We have to risk and sacrifice on a regular basis so that we can be open to the mystery which lies hidden in plain sight. Times of prayer, service, giving of ourselves and our resources, community activities, reading the Bible or sharing deeply with others help prepare us to see as God sees.
“The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.” ― Meister Eckhart
By Paula D’Arcy (given to her at a retreat)
This is the day that lies before me.
These are the hours, this is my life.
I lift myself up to ask for blessings from above,
And bow down to ask for the blessings of the earth.
I take these gifts with thanks,
And open my heart.
I let go of my past and what has gone before,
And reach forward to my future,
I turn to those things that I do not expect and are yet unknown.
May the road of this day be good.
This is my life.
Everything started with the little seeds.
Bring them together and let them grow.
Let them blossom,
But everything that blossoms decays and falls to earth.
Take care of what is inside,
And be ready to open up.
All that was yesterday is past.
All of today lies ahead.
Trust your strength and sweetness,
A new day is awaiting you.
Live fully in God’s love today my friends. We can experience life abundantly only in the beauty of this present moment.
Song: “Everyday God”