Early yesterday evening JJ’s computer started not charging right. Since my poor computer also has had problems charging, I texted our friend who fixes our computers and he said he’d look at JJ’s computer on Sunday. He suggested we make sure EJ’s computer is plugged into a surge protector. I realized that in all the buying and rearranging of furniture a few months ago, our computers became plugged into non-surge protector power strips. I wonder if that’s the problem? It just seems strange that two of our laptops aren’t charging right. EJ and JJ’s computers are now plugged into a surge protector. I will have to buy at least one more so no matter where we sit, a computer is always plugged into a surge protector.
Last night JJ and I discussed the fact that sometimes it’s the many little problems, not the BIG PROBLEMS, that wear us down. I mean, we know that we have to have endurance and courage and faith to get through the BIG PROBLEMS. But having computers fail or the cat poop right in the path so that I step in it on the way to letting the dog out into the fenced in yard….those many little problems that accumulate can feel like straws that break the camel’s back. Maybe because we are already aware of and preparing for the BIG PROBLEMS but the little problems crop up unexpectedly and throw us off-balance.
Oh, well. Such is life.
As I’ve said before, a few years ago I began to teach myself Hebrew. I do not know how a person can learn Hebrew and not learn about faith and life, since truths of faith and life seem to be intertwined into the very language.
As our family has studied Hebrew our faith has undergone change. For example, several years ago my family began to celebrate Shabbat (Sabbath). I always thought that Shabbat was a legalistic burden that was done away with “in Christ,” but as I met more and more Jewish believers in Yeshua (Jesus), I saw that they considered Shabbat to be a day to joyfully look forward to each week. “How could something so oppressive be a joy?” I wondered. So I asked a Jewish friend to explain it to me. She answered my millions of questions with infinite patience, and I finally understood. Shabbat begins on Friday evening and ends on Saturday evening. Friday night can be compared to a “date night” with God, complete with flowers and a romantic candlelight dinner. Saturday is sort of like a family day–a day to relax, rest, and enjoy God and family. It has become an utter delight to us.
Every Shabbat, synagogues around the world study the Parashah, or Scripture portions. Portions are read from the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms. Messianic Jews also add portions from the New Testament. It is believed that Ezra originally divided the Scriptures into these 54 portions so that through the year the entire Torah scroll is read. Yeshua (Jesus) referred to this reading schedule in Luke 24:44 when he said, “These are my words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms, concerning me.”
My family has been studying the weekly parashah together over the last few years and we have found it a tremendous joy and blessing. Not only do we love to read and discuss the chapters of Scriptures, but we enjoy the deep insight of the Jews’ teachings on these passages. Usually we read the Parashah from the Hebrew for Christian website, but we also read teaching from other sources too.
This morning I woke up at about 7 a.m. Since EJ and JJ were still sleeping, I made coffee and then did a bit of reading. In preparation for the studying my family would enjoy together later, I read this week’s Parashah from the book A Taste of Torah by Keren Hannah Pryor. She is an Israeli Bible scholar who loves the Messiah. Her late husband founded The Center For Judaic-Christian Studies, and she is now in the process of setting up a new ministry of her own. I have become friends with her and study with her and a few others via video-chat. She is very sweet and has a lot of deep insight.
Anyway, this week’s Scripture portion is from Genesis 28:10 – 32:3; Hosea 12:12 – 14:10; John 1:43-51. The portion is called Ya’yetze, which means “And He Went Out.” One thing I read this morning concerning this portion in A Taste of Torah is:
“…The next verse describes how [Jacob] suddenly arrives at a place. The literal translation of the Hebrew text is more dramatic. Va’yifga ha’makom. “And he collided with the place.” It was a startling, unexpected encounter. Yifga suggests a dynamic encounter with an object that is traveling towards oneself. A word in modern Hebrew from the same root is paga, to hit (as in “to hit the target”), and a word familiar today, pigua, a terrorist attack.
As the redeemed of the Lord we move forward in our lives, planning in faith and hope towards our goals and desires, which we trust are in accordance with His will. But sudden, unexpected events can occur that interrupt our plans and disrupt the harmonious pattern we anticipated. They startle and shake us. On later reflection, however, we realize that unpleasant shocks can result in great good. We are given the opportunity to grow. They stir up the spirit and life within us and demand that we seek and reach out for God. They stretch the limits of our existence and our lives are changed.
I thought that accurately describes what has happened in our lives many times, most recently with JJ’s illness. We go along, life is normal, and then suddenly we “collide with a place.” I call these places “Life Quakes” because they are like earthquakes that shake and tear and unbalance us. They are not pleasant places. They are often an utter shock, even sometimes a horror. They are something we can’t handle on our own.
I actually dislike those quotes that say that God will never give us more than we can handle. Most of life’s difficulties I can’t handle–but I am convinced that HE can handle every situation. It’s often when life is difficult that God draws especially close. I love Psalms 18:12 which says, in the midst of an overwhelming flood of problems, that God “made darkness His secret place.”
I have encountered God in the dark secret places many times. Even now, with JJ’s cancer, there are good things happening. EJ, JJ, and I are drawing even closer together and we are experiencing God’s provision in a variety of ways.
I like this recent quote from Hebrew for Christians, which goes along with this thought of how dark places affect faith:
Brokenness distills the intentions of the heart by helping us to be more honest with ourselves. We begin to realize that we are more vulnerable than at first we thought; that our faith is not as strong as we imagined, and that our motives are often mixed and unconscious. Illusions are striped away; idols crumble; deeper levels of selfishness are uncovered; the gap between our words and our deeds is exposed… It is one thing, after all, to intellectually think about faith or to idealize spirituality, but it is quite another to walk out faith in darkness. Yet it is only there, in the rawness of heart, that we discover what we really believe and how our faith makes traction with reality…