I am sure there are more complex ways to look at today’s readings, but this basic message speaks clearly to me: God cares for us in the here and now, wants us to be free of misery and oppression, and desires that we find rest from our burdens in Jesus. The God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses, “I Am,” was with the children of Israel while they suffered in Egypt and promised them not only relief but “a land flowing with milk and honey.” “I Am” is beyond time, always present, and promises rest through Jesus for those who labor and are burdened. No doubt Jesus and “I Am” continue to offer freedom, milk, honey, and rest to those who are oppressed and in misery today – not in some distant time and place but here and now.
Related to this idea of God as “I Am,” beyond time and ever present, I offer two selections, neither of which I have thought about for many years. My wife, Jennifer, introduced me to them almost 25 years ago. The first is a short book by Spencer Johnson, M.D., entitled “The Precious Present.” The second, a poem by Helen Mallicoat, I offer in its brief entirety:
I was regretting the past and fearing the future.
Suddenly my Lord was speaking:
“My name is I Am,” He paused. I waited. He continued.
“When you live in the past, with its mistakes and regrets, it is hard.
I am not there.
My name is not I Was.
When you live in the future, with its problems and fears, it is hard.
I am not there.
My name is not I Will Be.
When you live in this moment, it is not hard.
I am here.
My name is I Am.
Dear God, please help us to live fully in the present. Help us to work for love, peace, and justice in the here and now. Amen.