The collect for this week has an interesting phrase that continuously catches my attention:
"Grant us the fullness of your (God's) grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure..."
Running to obtain your promises. I find that in my own life, I both run to those promises but when I get too close, I feel myself skidding to a stop and realizing, "I better run away!" This is the life of one who reads the story of Jonah with great appreciation for our misfit prophet who'd rather hide than go do as God commands. I understand that behavior because I am that behavior. A lot.
It's the contradiction of me as I keep following along after God down whatever path we're on together. I'll sprint, and then I'll get that sense of "Yikes!" and I'll start moving in the other direction only to find myself turned around again back in the way in which I was going with God initially. The one comfort I have in all of this is that when I consider the history of the people of God as reported to us in the Scriptures, I am definitely not alone! Many people, both individuals and whole groups, have done this same running to and running away from the promises. Tonight and into tomorrow, Jews around the world will be contemplating and considering the story of Abraham and Isaac as part of Rosh Hashanah. Definitely a story of how Abraham kept running after the promises of God, even though he was being asked to do something as horrific as to sacrifice his only son on an altar. The story doesn't tell us if Abraham had an internal misgivings; only that he was doing as he was commanded to do. In the end, he does not have to sacrifice his son. But his unquestioning willingness to do whatever it was that God asked is seen as a sign of Abraham's loyalty to God. Isaac lives, and from Isaac and Rebecca we have Jacob and Esau (the former to become "Israel").
I'm not sure that I would be able to have gone as far as Abraham went in the binding of Isaac story without asking some questions! It wouldn't exactly have been "running away", but I think my sprint might have slowed down to a stroll.