Come, let us return to the Lord;
For He has torn us, that He may heal us;
He has struck us down, and He will bind us up.
Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;
His going out is sure as the dawn;
He will come to us as the showers,
As the spring rains that water the earth.
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
The knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
Hosea 6, Matthew 12:7
Be glad and rejoice in the Lord your God,
for He has given the early rain for your vindication;
He has poured down for you abundant rain,
the early and the latter rain, as before.
The threshing floors shall be full of grain;
the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
I will restore to you the years
that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
my great army, which I sent among you.Amos 2:23-25
Somehow these Scriptures pull together so many small yet very vivid images from the past two days, wrapping them all up into one big hopeful promise.
The brilliant pink burst momentarily lined the later rain clouds piled high in the east when I turned the corner of Tucson International Airport after dropping off Nicole as she heads to South Dakota to challenge students, teachers and families to be intentionally and courageously kind. Momentarily. My next glance eastward, towards Aslan’s country, was filled with only heavy greyness, but the sign of glory had broken through, a promise.
Tucson is suffering a plague of swarming locusts: the hoppers, the destroyers, and the cutters, The little colorful bodies are throwing themselves upward and inward to every vulnerable space. Chomp, chomp, chomp through the basil and oregano by the front door, leaping into my classroom, along with a door-rattling blast of wind that blew framed pictures off the wall into shattering shards of glass. And while I can trap a few of them into mismatched petri dishes for an observation activity for my science students and toss a couple of the decidedly most unhappy ones into the black widow jar on my desk, hundreds of the little guys crunch underfoot. Underfoot, a promise.
Scooched together with a largish crowd of greying but perky souls who had gathered for foot-stomping fiddle playing, Carmen and I went to a folk music fundraiser last night headlined by Ryanhood. Which of course meant a polished rendition of “Always Love You”:
No need to be so concerned with who is best or holiest...
No need to be consumed with all the ways that you try to save your life...
because you are going to be sifted like the wheat, because no wheat is going to grow unless it dies...
No need to be so confused by all the fires you have to walk though because they are breaking you and making you and building you to love the least of these, even Me...
I will always walk with you, even if you feel you walk alone, And I will walk along with you unknown, I will walk along with you unknown, til you come home. Steadfast love, a promise.
And I had to pick a favorite verse for my Desert website biography. So I wandered through myriad translations of Psalm 84:5, weighing “Blessed,” versus “How blessed,” and “Happy,” and “What joy for those.” And considering “whose strength is in You” as contrasted with “strength is from the LORD,” and “strength is in Thee.” And have I set my heart or my mind on a pilgrimage? Or am I “disposed to ascend by steps”?
But what is more important than the me part of the verse, is the He part of the verse: He will heal us; He will bind us up; He will provide springs of water in the dry valleys, until we arrive home.
And there is 70% chance of rain today in Tucson, as just announced by NPR radio, which really means that drops are falling right on top of the announcer as he peers out of the window from his office somewhere at the university campus. And even surer than rain in Tucson today from the cumulonimbus clouds heaped up over the Catalinas, is His pouring down rain and the overflowing vats, a promise given so very long ago.
And let me not be a Pharisee who turns my back on Him, and walks away to conspire, because my plans and concerns and pride and sacrifice look different than His mercy.
But let me be glad and rejoice in the LORD my God. May I enter the house of the God and eat the bread of His presence. Come let us return to the LORD.