Saturday, December 31, 2016

Spinning Like a Dreidel

Have you ever spun a dreidel?

It spins and wobbles, and wobbles and spins, finally falling down with a thud on its side.

That's how I feel sometimes.

Spinning here and there, timing kids' drop offs and pickups like air traffic control, wedging in the grocery store and gas station between stops so that everyone and everything stays fueled up for continued spinning. And that's after a day at work.

By the time I've stowed the last dish and paired the last sock, I fall with a thud into bed, not as early as I'd like, but too early for my dear husband, who deserves more than a muffled "Ahhh love ooo..." as my eyes melt shut.

 That's why, as fun as dreidels can be, watching them actually stresses me out a little bit, if I'm honest. 

So as Hanukkah comes to a blazing close on New Year's Eve, I'm determined to focus on the menorah instead of the dreidel. Because the menorah is a reminder that when people commit what they have to God, He does miraculous things.

You see, when the Maccabees defeated Antiochus and started to rededicate the Temple, there wasn't enough undefiled oil to keep the Lampstand lit for more than a day. That was a major problem, because God had commanded his people to never let the Lampstand go out;  it was a reminder of His Presence. But if the Maccabees waited on more oil before they lit the Lampstand, it would be like saying they hadn't quite won yet, that God wasn't quite victorious.

 And so, even though it looked like the Maccabees didn't have enough oil, they lit the Lampstand anyway. Trusting that obedient and worshipful hearts were more important than hedging their bets. And the miracle is that the one-day supply lasted for eight days instead, until people were able to harvest and press enough olives to refuel the Lampstand.

My Lion of Judah menorah from Israel
 that mygrandma gave me.
That's why I want to keep my eyes on those flickering flames rather than the spinning top.

No matter my deficiencies - time, patience, money, hope, health, faith, etc. - the miracle comes when I consecrate all I have to God.

 He blessed the Maccabees so they could worship and honor Him. And He does the same for me. Because the more I joyfully open my hands to God in the midst of life's craziness and uncertainty, the more I experience His illuminating Presence.

And that is all the fuel I need.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Rejoicing on the Eve of #Election2016

The view from my favorite writing spot
during this Feast of Tabernacles
We're nearing the end of the eight-day Feast of Tabernacles. 

I'm celebrating by spending a few days in the mountains with my family. However, I confess that I'm not living outside all week in a makeshift booth...

Even so, I'm feeling joyful in the midst of God's creation, which is appropriate, because the nickname for this feast is Zeman Simchateinu, the Season of our Joy.

Why is Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, so joyful? For starters, God actually commanded His people to rejoice and celebrate!

The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the Lord’s Festival of Tabernacles are to...celebrate...rejoice...celebrate...celebrate... Leviticus 23:33-34,38-41

Now, you may or may not know that the heart of Sukkot is God's command to live in temporary, primitive booths for the whole feast (refer to past blogs for more on this). 

So why would living for a week in flimsy booths made from branches cause someone to rejoice? God Himself gives the reason:

"'[S]o your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.’” Leviticus 23:43

Living in flimsy huts calls us to rejoice because it reminds us that when we think there's not enough food or water, or when we're being ambushed by enemies, or tricked by our own, or surrounded by complainers, our hope is not in things or in people, but in God Himself.

Living in flimsy huts calls us to rejoice because we remember that our protection and our well-being isn't secured by giant stone walls or vast mighty armies. Or by safe cars or fat retirement accounts. Or by career politicians or supreme courts of law.

To be perfectly honest, I can't think of better timing for the Feast of Tabernacles than the eve of this troubling election. The angst and anger flying across social media and coffee shops tempt a person to think that the fate of all future generations hangs in the balance of one human being. But it doesn't.

God knows exactly who will move into the White House in January. But He will still occupy the Throne of Heaven. And in one thousand years, when 2016 is ancient history, our holy God will still be sitting on His Throne. And those who love Him will be with Him.

So trade your angst and anger for joy. Because we have an eternal, immortal Avenu Malkeinu - Father and King - Who sustains and protects us, no matter what swirls around us.

So speak the peace. Have eternal perspective. And rejoice!