Tumbling in the Sand
“And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight.” – Luke 13:11
I bet she didn’t expect anything to change that Sabbath day. I mean after eighteen years of having to strain to look at anything more than the ground, her hands, and her feet. Eighteen years—children who had looked up at her bent frame would have grown to tower above her and no longer look her in the eye by then. Eighteen years—it’s enough time to get used to how things are and not expect much to change.
We could easily be like that, you know—not expecting change. “Well, things have been like this forever,” we might think, “Why would we expect something different? It’s always going to be like this.” Which, I suppose has some wisdom to it: an effort, I suppose, to live with what is and to not be disappointed with what is not—but it is really pretty sad, really.
I mean, we worship a God who claims to be doing a new thing. We worship a God who promises to redeem life from the grave (to quote the psalm)—talk about radically different stuff here! We worship a God who shakes the foundations of heaven and earth. We worship a God who changes things.
If we don’t expect anything to change, do we really trust the promises of that God?
I don’t mean to say, just to be clear, that God—a consuming fire, by the way—is around to fulfill our wish list. I don’t want to say that if we believed more, God would fix all that is wrong in our lives. I don’t believe God works that way. I believe that God died on a cross—that’s not exactly a way to easy answers and easy fixes. Or even, sadly, a way to cures or stability or quiet.
No, instead, what I mean to say is that God changes things—transforms things even. I mean to say that God takes broken things and makes beautiful things from their broken bits. I mean to say that God swirls dust together to create life and splits the waters to call people to freedom. I mean to say that God dances in the chaos at the beginning and calls life and light and beauty and creativity into being. I mean to say that God breathes life into tombs, causing dry bones to dance and wounded feet to walk.
And, I mean to say that God frees us to change things too. We’re not called to rebind what Jesus sets free. We’re not called to keep things the same. We’re not called to be rule-enforcers and boundary keepers. We’re freed to live into Isaiah’s vision: to be people who feed the hungry, who bring light to the darkness, who repair the breach, and restore the streets to live in. We are freed to live fully into the sabbath: the forgiveness, grace, rest and life of God. And we are freed to go and live it to the whole world—trusting this: that God changes things and God is changing things for good.
And, so hear Jesus words spoken to you: “you are set free.”