By David Baumann
A Reading from Deuteronomy 7:12-16
12 If you heed these ordinances, by diligently observing them, the Lord your God will maintain with you the covenant loyalty that he swore to your ancestors; 13he will love you, bless you, and multiply you; he will bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the issue of your flock, in the land that he swore to your ancestors to give you. 14You shall be the most blessed of peoples, with neither sterility nor barrenness among you or your livestock. 15The Lord will turn away from you every illness; all the dread diseases of Egypt that you experienced, he will not inflict on you, but he will lay them on all who hate you. 16You shall devour all the peoples that the Lord your God is giving over to you, showing them no pity; you shall not serve their gods, for that would be a snare to you.
A few decades ago I was driving through my home state to visit friends and, not being in a particular hurry, I took a leisurely course through mountain roads to enjoy the quiet and ageless scenery that had captivated me since childhood. At one point I eased to a stop behind another car which was motionless at a stop sign. After a few seconds the driver of that car came back to me and asked if I knew the area and could guide him to his destination, as he was utterly lost. I unfolded a map I had and gave him directions. He was deeply relieved; he and his wife had been driving around aimlessly in the sparsely settled region for a couple of hours with an ever-growing sense of panic.
The incident can illustrate today’s lesson. God says, “Take the map. Get familiar with my Word and gain confidence in your road and your destination. Follow my guidance and you will never have to fear being at the mercy of the elements or anyone who will take advantage of your weakness.” It doesn’t mean danger or difficulty won’t ever come; but it does mean you’re helped and guarded by what you’ve been given.
In one form after another, the message has been given to us repeatedly in these past days. Since I knew the terrain of my journey, I could enjoy the peace and beauty of the forest; the couple that was lost found that same terrain to be ever more and more fearsome, especially since it was late afternoon and darkness was only an hour or so away. Simple and ordinary as that incident was, the memory of it stayed with me as a practical lesson for times when I myself was lost at some stage of life. I knew the area, but the mapmakers knew far more than I did. “Because you keep and do these rules… you shall be blessed above all peoples.”
David Baumann has been an Episcopal priest for 47 years, mainly in the Diocese of Los Angeles and the Diocese of Springfield. He is now retired and has published nonfiction, science fiction novels, and short stories.
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Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Florida
The Diocese of Araucanía (Iglesia Anglicana de Chile)