But against none of the children of Israel shall a dog move its tongue, against man or beast, that you may know that the Lord does make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel. (Exodus 11:7)
During the last of the ten plagues, Moses spoke boldly against Pharoah: the Lord will go into the midst of Egypt and kill all the firstborn in the land of Egypt. This plague was the climax to the story of God’s deliverance of His people, after the Egyptians had undergone lengthy suffering and before Pharoah finally cast the Israelites out of his land in devastation from the loss of his firstborn. At the end, the Lord had gained victory and displayed His majestic powers. The Lord had shown that He does make a difference between the Egyptians and those who He calls His own.
But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. (Mt 25:18, ESV)
When I read the parable of the talents, I never quite think of myself as the wicked and lazy servant who buried his talent in the ground. I was actively serving at church – it wasn’t like I wasn’t using the talents that God gave me! But there’s another way to bury our talents apart from not using them, and that is by being complacent.
After a dramatic episode involving God plaguing Pharaoh’s house on account of Abram’s wife, Sarai, Abram and Sarai were basically kicked out of the land of Egypt.
Prior to this taking place, God had called Abram from his own country and promised to give him descendants who would inherit the land of Canaan. Once there, Abram pitched his tent between Bethel and Ai, built an altar to the Lord, and called on His name (Gen 12:8). But when a severe famine hit the land, in a moment of weakness, Abram left God’s promises behind and went down to Egypt. If God had not intervened by sending plagues upon Pharaoh’s house, Abram would have lost his wife Sarai and the hope of having descendants through her—for he had lied about Sarai being his sister.
While preparing for a J1 class and looking through a closet of old textbooks and activity booklets, I noticed something unusual. A few of the activity books had names written on them, which was strange because we only kept blank versions of the activity books. Upon closer inspection, I realized that the activity book belonged to another sister who was around my age. And sure enough, behind her activity book sat my own J1 activity book – from 10 years ago.
Sometimes the world overwhelms me. Sometimes waves of anxiety sweep over me. At those moments, dread seems to take over my life, and all I would see would be the dark shadows looming.
This kind of feeling can rise out of various facets of life; be it from stress at work, anxiety in school, insecurities stemming from interpersonal issues, or even confusion/doubts about church. And in my attempt to piece everything together, I find my thoughts in a whirlwind, shredded into bits and pieces, flying here and there, unfocused and flustered – the space of my mind left ransacked in the aftermath of a brutal tornado.
So amidst all the chaos and confusion, I asked God to grant me a quiet heart and to teach me how to maintain it despite the external circumstances. And bit by bit, I began to understand and appreciate more what having a steadfast heart means. Continue reading