Anticipation bubbles along my skin. A light spills from the door of my Bible class bracketing a short line of chattering adults in an otherwise, grey and monotonous hall. There are other doorways open; but none with this much interest, this much activity. This is a class unlike any other in my church.
This Wednesday night Bible class is led by a rabbi. There are long tables covered in the deep Israeli blue at the front of the room, with photographs and artifacts from Jerusalem. The walls are covered with posters. And tonight, there is a cake. A whole, big sheet cake, snow blind with white icing and piped in royal blue. It is someone's birthday.
Gentle rabbi, a believer in Yeshua the Messiah, takes us on a calendar journal into the land that has been called the center of the world for worshippers, the most sacred spot on earth.
In the hour and half that unfolds, he underscores again and again, with unremitting purpose, that God is a God of order and He works in seasons and embeds rhythm and acts on specific days. His proof is first from Biblical text and then from Israel's timeline. We can expect, he tells us, that this God whose sun, moon, and stars are similar to the cogs and wheels in the Swiss watch, paragon of precision, to work in our lives with the same attention to detail.
We sing Happy Birthday, to Israel; a rainbow arches over the church campus.
I sit me here on the following Sabbath, staring at the shoe boxes scattered all around me, the tissue paper floating to the floor like feathers from an angel's wing. I am opening them now, but they arrived on the Wednesday, of Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel's birthday, day of independence). They have traveled all the way from Israel.
I have chosen these shoes because once, many years ago I owned a pair and they lasted me a decade. The most comfortable sandals I ever owned.
In the sole of my shoe, there is a word in Hebrew. I slip on the shoes and stand on the language of the Bible. I suspect it is the Hebraic rendering of the logo, but I will imagine that its translation goes something like this,
"Yet the Lord says, 'During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out,
nor did the sandals on your feet.' "
~ Deuteronomy 29:5
Here I sit in my candle lit home this Sabbath evening in Spring, surrounded by my Israeli shoes, and ponder the timing. Why this week, why today?
It has been seven years since my Egypt, where bricks were demanded without straw. Seven years this week, since I came home and prepared a detailed list for packing and moving out. Without my salary, we would surely lose most of what we owned, and we steeled ourselves for the notice that would surely be pinned to our door when we did not meet mortgage.
Seven years. We lived on the manna that came faithfully, unexpectedly, provisionally. Jehovah-Jireh. And still, a voice speaks though barely discernible, no more than the desert wind. If I had the eyes to see, the manna has sustained me much longer than seven years.
"These forty years the LORD your God has been with you;
you have not lacked a thing."
~ Deuteronomy 2:7
I slip on the sandals (stardust leather they are), and walk around in them though I am in my nightgown, and the thoughts I ponder will follow me into the week.
"You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that he might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. . ."
He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know. . .that He might make you understand that man does not l ive by bread alone, but. . .by everthing that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. . ."