Daily Devotion 15 July 2020
2 Esdras 5:31-40 ‘Ezra Wants to Know More’
31 When I had spoken these words, the angel who had come to me on a previous night was sent to me. 32 He said to me, ‘Listen to me, and I will instruct you; pay attention to me, and I will tell you more.’ 33 Then I said, ‘…every hour I suffer agonies of heart, while I strive to understand the way of the Most High and to search out some part of his judgement.’ 35 He said to me, ‘You cannot.’ And I said, ‘Why not, my lord?’
36 He said to me, ‘Count up for me those who have not yet come, and gather for me the scattered raindrops, and make the withered flowers bloom again for me; 37 open for me the closed chambers, and bring out for me the winds shut up in them, or show me the picture of a voice; and then I will explain to you the travail that you ask to understand.’
38 I said, ‘O sovereign Lord, who is able to know these things except him whose dwelling is not with mortals? 39 As for me, I am without wisdom, and how can I speak concerning the things that you have asked me?’. 40 He said to me, ‘Just as you cannot do one of the things that were mentioned, so you cannot discover my judgement, or the goal of the love that I have promised to my people.’
During a walk at Ditchling Beacon recently, I came across these flowers tied to a post near the top of the hill, and looking as if they were withering. It’s hard not to see random flowers left outside intentionally in this way, and not to feel concerned about who left them there, why, and wonder for whom were they left? Flowers can be left for various reasons, but sometimes there can be a fear that they have been left in memory of someone whose life has ended, maybe even tragically so.
Maybe these flowers were left in a joyous memory of a person who was a companion on a Downs walk – a source of friendship and companionship on strolls and exercise? Or maybe these flowers mark a meeting point – two people coming together in a place and at a time full of meaning for the relationship? Who knows?
2 Esdras is an obscure part of the Bible, tucked away only in editions which include ‘The Apocrypha’ – which means ‘hidden’. In 2 Esdras, Ezra the prophet seems to be bargaining with God, rather immaturely. Verse 35 brings out a smile in me: “No” says God the Parent. “Why not?” says Ezra the child! God challenges Ezra to count every person still to be born, make dead flowers bloom again, and that beautiful phrase “show me the picture of a voice” and of course Ezra cannot do any of these things. God’s ways, wisdom, and purpose, are simply beyond his.
To live with limitations – of life, of health, or knowledge – is to be human, to be the way are created by God. Rather than resist our own humanity, perhaps sometimes we need to rest in God’s parenthood a little more. God knows more deeply than we can imagine and, as Ezra is reminded, promises his people abundant love.
Creator God, accept my wondering and questioning, the limitations of my knowledge and faith.
Bless me, and help me to rest in your loving and eternal presence. Amen.
Reflection, Image and Prayer © 2020 Paul Tabraham.
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