Harp and Story

Israel

There’s so much talk about community or communal living in the states. We talk and talk and draw up proposals and issue guidelines and talk some more and then, we talk. Only in a few instances have we, who have an interest in community, gone beyond the talk stage into action. In a secular sense, though, we all live in a community of some sort whether it is the family farm, or our home town, or the suburbs where we share common space and amenities with others. This year we have been given an unprecedented opportunity to live in the midst of a Jewish religious community. Our house is across from a playground and everyday mothers with children come and spend hours talking and visiting and watching their little ones swing and climb and ride the various playground equipment. On Shabbat the fathers bring the children to the park and they talk and visit and watch their children play. No one drives a car, except security personnel, from an hour before Shabbat begins on Friday to an hour after Shabbat ends on Saturday. You can walk, but only so far – a Sabbath day’s journey – proscribed by a perimeter line around the settlement, and you must not carry anything that would resemble work, such as a writing tablet with pen or pencil. If you want light in the house after the sun goes down you must turn the light on before Shabbat begins and then leave it on if you think you will need that light before Shabbat ends for it is not permissible to turn a light on again once it has been turned off during the Shabbat hours. Steve and I are house parents for 13 girls so to keep from mistakenly turning on a light after Sabbath had begun we taped all the light switches except one to the off position. Internet and cell phone use are also forbidden during the Shabbat hours. We were trying to digest all these dos and don’ts this past Friday and a question came up, ‘what about the coffee pot, it doesn’t have a timer?’ Another question as one of the girls held up a manual can opener, ‘can we use this?’ I didn’t have an answer for the coffee issue, but to the can opener question I said, ‘it doesn’t use electricity and who in the community would see you use it?’ Maybe not the right answer, but I must confess I was getting a little perturbed with all the ‘fences’. But to be able to live in this community for the next couple of months we have to agree to live this community’s way. To keep a good face forward the leadership of our group has determined that women are not to walk anywhere alone, and that no one is to be walking after dark. Steve is busy driving people here and there and when he does make it back to the house by evening he drops into bed exhausted so there goes my walking partner, (I need to find another walking partner.) The parameters I find myself confined to are restrictive and irritating, but they are also causing me to begin to look closer into my own life and ask, ‘why am I irritated?’

Oswald Chambers in “My Utmost for His Highest” had an insightful devotional for September 17th. Go to: http://www.oswaldchambers.co.uk/Readings.php for the full text. Mr. Chambers is taking his talk from 1Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.” Halfway through the devotional he says, “Every man has the setting of his own temptation, and the temptation will come along the line of the ruling disposition.” A few days before on the 15th I had underlined these words of Mr. Chambers, “Maintain a continual watchfulness so that nothing of which you would be ashamed arises in your life… Others are doing things which to you would be walking in craftiness, but it may not be so with them. God has given you another standpoint. Never blunt the sense of your Utmost for His Highest. For you to do a certain thing would mean the incoming of craftiness for an end other than the highest, and the blunting of the motive God has given you. Many have gone back because they are afraid of looking at things from God’s standpoint. The great crisis comes spiritually when a man has to emerge a bit further on than the creed he has accepted.”

So what is YHVH’s standpoint in putting us in the midst of a Jewish religious community? What spiritual crisis is in the works for us? As our time goes on here in the land this is what I want to explore. It’s a journey I believe The Father has a purpose behind. Thanks for joining me. Blessings!

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The Abundant Life

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