Can You See?

“The Lord says this: A curse on the man who puts his trust in man, who relies on things of the flesh, whose heart turns from the Lord. He is like dry scrub in the wastelands: if good comes, he has no eyes for it, he settles in the parched places of the wilderness, a salt land, uninhabited.

A blessing on the man who puts his trust in the Lord, with the Lord for his hope. He is like a tree by the waterside that thrusts its roots to the stream: when the heat comes it feels no alarm, its foliage stays green; it has no worries in a year of drought, and never ceases to bear fruit.” [Jer 5-10]

What a statement!

We are so prone to relying on things of the flesh, our minds, our bodies to make our way in the world. We trust in ourselves and each other to achieve happiness in this life.

You are what you make of yourself,  we are told. Some would argue that the rich are so because they deserve it, and at least some of the poor because they too have failed to try. Thus, our lot in life is in our own hands.

God tells us differently. He tells us that when we rely on ourselves, when we become the “master of our fate” we see through dirty glasses, or as Paul suggested, through a glass darkly. We are simply unable to define what is good and joyous. We mistake happiness for houses and cars, bling in other words.

And because of that, we take up our residence in the “parched places, the uninhabited salt lands. We miss the paradise God offers, we simply do not see it. We blindly stumble along in life unaware of the true happiness, the true joy which God extends to us.

Quite simply, we life partial lives, unaware, as little more than dumb animals, conditioned to respond to blaring music and neon lights. We become addicted to the glitz, to the ever offered “fix” of adrenalin rush that we think is living.

When disaster strikes, as it must in every life, we fall apart. We are without foundation. We flounder, wail and collapse in disarray.

The one who knows where in her treasure lies, she is undisturbed. Her joy and happiness is firmly rooted in the reality of God, unswayed by the vagaries of human existence.  Her joy is undisturbed.

The choice remains for each of us.

Can you see?


**The excerpt is taken from the RSV. I checked with the NRSV, and the NJB. Subtle differences in translation miss this insight given in the RSV, or at least my interpretation. It just goes to show you that there is no perfect translation.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tim
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 18:12:27

    I keep bumping into this message at every turn, Sherry. If this is what so many are “hearing” in so many contexts about so many things, dare we dismiss it as coincidence? Others may. But it seems to me that God is speaking to us and we’d be wise to listen. We’ve got ourselves so turned around we’ve settled for shallow roots in dry places, and we’re withering away.

    Last Sunday, our pastor departed from the Lectionary to steer us back to John 3–Nicodemus’s late-night discussion with Jesus that baffled him with its poetry and metaphors. (And in a targeted answer to the Biblically literal set, she emphasized John’s Gospel is poetry attempting to capture abstract aspects of Christ’s teachings via literary technique. Hence its heavy usage of light and dark, day and night, birth and death, etc. “Isn’t it ironic,” she asked, “that John is the writer so many take most literally?” But I stray…)

    She broke the Nicodemus dialogue down as “the old normal” versus “the new normal.” The curious Pharisee doesn’t get it; he asks, “How can these things be?” But Jesus keeps insisting new life is possible because God’s love is free to all. Despite his inability to conceive Jesus’s “new normal,” Nicodemus knows “the old normal” isn’t working. So he re-roots his faith in what he doesn’t fully understand. As I read your post I was struck by how closely Jeremiah’s metaphor portrays the very same dialectic: the old normal and withering away v. the new normal and thriving.

    And you couldn’t be more clear or correct: the choice is ours and we must see if for what it is.

    Such wealth, as always. Thank you!


    PS: If you’re interested in reading the sermon (entitled “The Way”)–which I highly recommend–you can find it here:


    • Sherry
      Mar 25, 2011 @ 14:07:47

      It is so hard when we are entrenched in our thinking to not only even contemplate a new way, but to actually take it in and think about it actually being a better way. I’m so utterly convinced that the great sadness in all this is that the disciples, and the believers got so little of what Jesus was driving at, that we have ultimately received even less. They heard it, but probably didn’t get a lot of us. Perhaps that is why some of his sayings are so enigmatic–they recorded them, not really getting them themselves so the context is perhaps missing. It is why we keep taking the scripture in and letting it ferment within us.

      Have a wonderful weekend!


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