In today’s Revised Common Lectionary readings, I find a bit of a disconnect between the Psalm and the reading from Judges.The Psalm describes the coming of the Lord in fantastic ways. Psalm 114 asks questions of the sea and the mountains. Why would the sea flee from before the Lord? Why would mountains and hills skip away like wild animals?
A better question might be what kind of person could cause such a reaction to take place? I don’t know much about the seas or hills around the holy land beyond what I have read, but I can certainly tell you that North American lakes and mountains really don’t care what humans want of them (although we’re certainly doing our best to have a powerful impact on them).
When I was really young I was a Boy Scout. Yes, I was a Boy Scout and my troop loved to go camping. One year we went on an epic trip into the wilderness of Canada. We piled into canoes and went out into the wilds of Canada. We got into our canoes, paddled for miles, got out of our canoes, carried our canoes, climbed into our canoes again, paddled again, go out again… until we were in the middle of nowhere. It was beautiful and wild.
At one point a member of my group and I were canoeing when the boat capsized. I tried to stand up and my leg was stuck in the mud. I pulled and pulled until something gave…painfully. My scouting friend went to get help and I laid on a rock in the middle of the wilderness in insane amounts of pain. I could barely walk when I got back to camp and twisted my ankle further portaging the canoe on the way back. It was painful, it was traumatic, and the lakes did not care. The mud that I begged to let go of my foot did not care. The hill I tripped on while portaging the canoe did not care.
The Psalm describes seas and mountains as caring about what this God does. The implication for me is that this God is so far beyond me that I cannot imagine how powerful this God might be. It defies explanation. It defies science. This defies everything I experience about reality.
So, why is this silly Judge questioning God with something as simple as wool and dew? Does Gideon just needs a bit of reassurance or is he trying not to push his luck? Does Gideon not know what the seas and mountains would do? The whole Judge based system seems like it led to a lot of problems, but putting these two readings side by side really emphasizes how strange the perspectives of individuals can be at times.
Of course, I sometimes question whether it is reasonable or not to ask God for a good crop of apples this fall. God can make mountains skip, but it sometimes seems too much to ask God to keep the frost away from the blossoms for a few weeks. Perhaps this is why I was not called to be a farmer. Most faithful farmers I know have a deep faith that doesn’t seem afraid to ask for help with crops. Most of them are also bold enough that they’d likely continue to believe regardless of what the wool did the next morning.
In the meantime, I am thankful that I love a God who is so powerful yet lives out of a place of love and grace. I am thankful that I do not have the power of God as I would likely not use it very well. I will give thanks that I am beloved as a goofball who prays for apples and worries about the faith of people with wool. At least I am pondering and I know that is a good start.