I am blogging this Advent from #decolonizelutheranism’s Advent devotional, Shut Up. (That would be the sanitized version)
Now why do you cry aloud? Is there no king in you? Has your counselor perished, that pain seized you like a woman in labor? (Micah 4:9 ESV)
“Who is responsible for you?” It’s a question I remember some drill sergeant from another training company ask me when I was an Army recruit.
One of the assumptions of basic military training is that we recruits need to learn anew the way the world works, from top to bottom. We don’t think for ourselves, we don’t go anywhere alone, we don’t do anything without orders from someone. And we aren’t responsible for ourselves in any positive way.
Negative stuff, oh yeah. “Drop and give me twenty.” Yeah. Fuck-ups were always ours. But we weren’t allowed to think, to make decisions. Our welfare was always someone else’s responsibility. And there is nothing sadder on a basic training post than a gaggle of recruits without orders or a commander. They are lost and they know it. Truly sheep without a shepherd.
Why do you cry aloud, O Daughter of Zion? Have been abandoned? Do you now do this painful thing all on your own, without shepherd, without king, without wise counsel? Do you know what to do now that you face the terrors of the world — which are here, right here, right on top of you, gathered to ravish and defile you — on your own?
You are alone.
The word of the Lord here to the Prophet Micah is harsh. “Writhe and groan, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you shall go out from the city and dwell in open country; you shall go to Babylon.” The pain is difficult, unbearable, uncontrollable, and we do this on the move, in hostile land, under a hot sun, against elements that would wish us as dead as those driving us, without anyone to comfort or give hope.
Driving us. Into exile.
But God through Micah gives us a word of hope about this place we are going. “There you shall be rescued; there the Lord will redeem you from the hands of your enemies.”
We will be redeemed.
But not now. Not today. Not from our fear or our pain. Not from our enemies at the gate. Not from failure and defeat. Not from the long march into exile.
We will be redeemed. Not from these things. But in these things.
We will face terror.
But we will be redeemed.
Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow me afterward.” (John 13:36 ESV)