On the second night in Jericho when I laid down to go to sleep I thought, “What is happening to me, here?” There is a stirring, a movement on a personal level, one I am just beginning to identify, one with many layers. We are encouraged over and over, “be here, be present, listen, learn.” We are on pilgrimage. But it is not my own mindfulness which deeply beckons and awakens me here, it is God’s mindfulness.
We started out in Jericho, the oldest town in the world. It sits right near the Dead Sea which contains so much salt you float easily and if you get water in your eyes it is an injury. In Jericho, the place in which Joshua led the Israelites into the promised land, the place in which Moses was not allowed to go, we climbed a mount where it is believed Satan tempted Jesus. I imagined it and was overwhelmed. Jesus. Tempted. Just like me. Here, love compelling him. And I am here, how is this possible? Who am I?
We scanned the horizon. Current-day Mt. Nebo sits in Jordan, just on the other side of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. “Moses stood right over there, on that very mount,” someone said. Moses, the one who said, if you are not with us God, I don’t want to go. I’ve prayed this prayer over my own life. Moses who, once I got to know him better, was not this faultless hero I once thought him to be but human and flawed like me. God used Moses and he wants to use me and you in his redemption story. Who am I?
One of our teammates reminded us of part of the story of Joshua on this mount. I was overcome, remembering. I was reminded of who I was. My heart and mind filled with courage as I thought about who God wants me to become. I remembered the first time God showed me how sometimes we need to take the first step into the river. The grace of it all bowled me over. I remembered back to when my faith became completely integral to my life, no longer a side story but the story. The story of God pursuing humanity and yet my very own story.
For years of my life, my security and good feelings when up and down with my behavior. Shame was the barometer. Shame was the thermometer, an arrow pointed at myself or others. But once God began to show me in my core it is not about being right all the time, it is not about living up to this certain standard it changed me. God chipped away at some of my distortions. Grace grabbed my heart in new ways and I began to cry out “who am I, God? Who am I that you would love me, save me, chase after me, call me yours?” It changed my identity. As I stood in the physical place of this personally transformative story, it took my breath away. This story, this narrative I actually believe is true. It caused my heart and soul to cry out again, “Why me, Lord? Who am I?” As it says in the Psalms, who am I that you are mindful of me?
And here’s the thing. I believe this is true for every human. God is mindful of you and me, each of us. God is mindful. How can this be? Creator, sustainer of life is mindful of me. What?
This place does it to you. It makes you feel small and beloved in one fail swoop.
Who are we, God? Who are we that you would consider us? We, the broken. We, the prideful. We, the slashers of others. We, the liars. We, the wounded. We, the twisted. We, the ones who can’t stay awake for a little while.
You are mindful. You weep over us. You yearn for us.
I saw it in you, Jesus. I felt it as I walked down the Mount of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane. You stopped in that place, you cried out, while the disciples fell asleep. You got up and kept going through the garden for us. You said yes to aloneness for us. We, who are fragile and alone, this is who you are mindful of. How can this possibly be true?
This place begs me to remember, begs me not to give up. This place. Who are we? Who am I?