Following a moon across the sky on Mt. Mitchell will make you move your head, crane your neck, and wonder at its path. This is going to be a “tough” moving year for pastors, or so people say. We usually have about one third of our clergy moving. This year it’s more like 10%. Moving or not, I feel for all the people who have had to move because of their jobs, age, or downsizing. Moving can be such a stressor. Counting my family of origin through all the parsonages we’ve lived in, I have called 13 different places “home.”
Some of this attitude is very selfish, I admit. I’m not as young as I used to be. The idea of heaving boxes is about as attractive as wanting to catch the flu. I wonder if Abram and Sarai felt some of this age-reluctance when, in their seventies, they were asked by God to leave their home in Ur and travel to an unknown destination?
Maybe their ages weren’t computed the way that ours are. After all, they both lived well into their 100’s. Perhaps they enjoyed good health because of the Middle Eastern diet. For instance, Mussa Zoabi of Israel claims to be the oldest person alive. He says he’s 160 years old. His name won’t go down in the record books because he is older than most record-keeping systems and his age can’t be verified. The interesting thing, however, is that Mussa Zoabi can tell you exactly why he’s lived so long. He says it’s his diet. Every day he drinks either a cup of melted butter or olive oil.
Diets are the rage, aren’t they? It seems that everyone has some special diet that will do this or that for you. Maybe Abram and Sarai had a special diet. Remember, when they got to the Promised Land, Abram had to pass his seventy-something wife off as his sister because she was so good looking that he was afraid someone would kill him to get her. Wow! Abram and Sarai must have had good genes and a super diet.
Sixty percent of women in North America say that they’re on a diet. Imagine that! We all want to be modern day Sarai’s and Abraham’s. A woman at Weight Watchers once told this story. She said that a new client had begun her diet. She came in to be weighed after the first stressful week. She stepped on the scales and had only lost a couple of pounds! The dieter wasn’t too happy, and complained. This is what she said: “My friend comes here to Weight Watchers, and she told me she lost ten pounds. She said I’d lose ten pounds in the first week, too!”
Well, the leader at Weight Watchers was a little disturbed. She knew that you don’t lose weight over night. So she asked the dieter, a little indignantly: “Who told you that? Is she a doctor?” The woman shook her head. The leader asked, “Is she a nurse?” “No,” said the woman. “Well,” continued the leader, “Is she a nutritionist, or another Weight Watcher’s leader?” Negative again! “Well, who is she?” asked the leader. “I think,” said the newcomer, “I think she’s a liar!”
Most of us know the truth and the lies about dieting. But what’s the truth about Abram and Sarai? How did they get the courage and gumption at their age to leave Ur of the Chaldees and strike out for Canaan? What made them so different from us and can we have a little bit of what they had? I think the answer was Faith! This year we need a lot of it to deal with the economy, itinerancy, and all of the everything-else’s that work on our spirits and bodies. Hang in there and follow the path.