Our fridge died yesterday. The signs had been there, but we’d made excuses until the dreaded, definitive indicator: a soft carton of ice cream. There’s not much to check with a fridge–it either works or doesn’t. This one was a goner, so I jumped in the car for some late night shopping, came home with bags of ice. We filled coolers and mopped the floor. toddled off to bed and spent the next while calculating.
This morning, we head to church–except, how am I supposed to concentrate on worship when the fridge is busted? We need to buy a new one, they’re expensive, the process is time-consuming, I have better things to do with that time… it’s enough to fill one’s soul with non-worshipful stuff.
Earlier this morning, though, I was up and reading Isaiah, who’s given a message for Ahaz, the king whose kingdom is being threatened. Talk about being preoccupied. Isaiah brings a message, from the Lord, intended to steer Ahaz, comfort him. This threat you’re perceiving, Ahaz? Don’t worry: God has it under control. “Within 65 years, Ephraim (part of the alliance arrayed against Ahaz) will be shattered,” Isaiah tells the king. So, good news. But wait: 65 years?
The message concludes with a rather stern word: “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all” (Isa 7:8-9). Stand firm? Roughly put, Ahaz is expected to exercise faith basically until he dies, even though he doesn’t see (since he’s not likely to live another 65 years) God’s promise come to fruition.
The call to faith just doesn’t go away. Despite circumstances–whether it’s a fridge on the fritz or an army at the border–God still wants this from us. Impossible? Sure, which is why we need God, to help us maintain the faith He’s asking us to exercise. A paradox, a mystery (wouldn’t it just be easier to solve the problem outright?); an opportunity, too.
So I’m off to church, wanting to worship, hoping visions of Sunday paper circulars won’t crowd God out of my brain and heart. I’m reminded, too, that God is everywhere–that even kitchen appliances provide occasions to see Him at work. So maybe worship will include thoughts of housewares today, alongside Biblical texts and hymns. The question, as always, is what will I believe, what will be important, what will occupy me?
…the minutiae of all that is and that happens, of Yes and No, of what takes place for someone secretly or openly, and of matters relating to the creation of this world–all these are revealed to the soul by the power attached to it, revealing to it God’s creative power, and showing it the divine care which unceasingly follows and visits everything which belongs to this created world.
And it shows the soul how this divine care follows a person at all times, and preserves him against adversities at all times, even though he may not perceive this or be aware of it; how it directs him towards what serves for the salvation and repose of his soul and body, leading to the discovery of his own true life.
–St. Isaac of Syria (c. 660 AD)