Until G-d Answers
“There is an old adage which says, “Man plans, and G-d laughs.” Despite our best efforts and sometimes extreme manipulations to direct and control our life’s course, only the Almighty knows all the hurdles and twists and turns our journey will take. For most of us, our life’s destination scarcely resembles the idyllic imaginings we’ve conjured in our youth as if life was a travel brochure and all stops along the way were meant to be pleasurable and to serve us. But then divorce and sickness come, bankruptcy and betrayals, opportunities lost or stolen, anguish, death, Corona, recessions and deep, deep disappointment. And as we travel this highway through hell, at each of its toll booths we pay a heavy price: We toss away our faith, our kindness, our trust, our mercy, our honesty. After a road long traveled, what is left of who we used to be? Very little if you don’t believe that all of life is a G-d-given test to refine us and elevate us. There is only one audience in life and it is not your neighbors, your boss, your family, or your Facebook or social networking audience—they perhaps are the provocateurs or the elaborate ways through which the L-rd will work His way—but the sole audience is G-d. Have you walked with grace along your path? Have you walked in faith? Does G-d like the “show” He is seeing or will your review be a shameful embarrassment?
The space between “what we want” and “what we have” is HOLY ground, and how we walk upon that space tells G-d who we are. We teach children from day one that they can’t always get what they want, mostly because we know it’s not good for them. And yet as adults we throw the worst of tantrums when things don’t go according to the wills and wants of our self-inflated egos. We resort to cheating, stealing, lying, coveting, slandering, cursing, conniving, stepping on people, hurting people, using people, working on the Sabbath, scoffing beggars and ridiculing the religious all in our efforts to self-pacify but with the result of enraging G-d. And so we lament saying that we prayed to G-d, but He ignored us. You must realize, however, that this waiting time is in fact the incubation period for our character. When we are left languishing, it is not G-d ignoring us, but G-d watching us closer than ever. And sometimes we are just hard of hearing: G-d does answer us but we just don’t like the answer, because His answer is “No!”-- What kind of person will you be when G-d says “No”?
In this week’s Torah reading, Chukat, we read that G-d was so angry at Moses for hitting the rock twice to bring forth water, instead of SPEAKING to it as he was instructed to do, that Moses was prevented from entering the Promised Land. Why was G-d so mad? Because, a man of Moses’ holy stature had no right to display such anger and impatience while waiting for the rock to give forth water after initially just speaking to it, even if (or especially if) the people taunted him. We must never take even the small tests for granted. For it was not a Pharaoh, nor his breaking of the stones upon which the Ten Commandments were engraved, nor was it his initial reluctance to take the job which prevented Moses from entering the Land. It was a rock. How will you behave when you're caught between a rock and hard place?
But be assured that the truth is G-d doesn’t really laugh when meritorious plans go awry, He cries and He goes down into the darkness with us when we spiritually stumble and fall. Unfortunately we recurrently fail to learn that if we won’t fall on our knees in His worship, He will bring us to our knees in other more bruising ways.
Friends, how we behave while we are "waiting" says a lot about us, even if we wait a lifetime. Let's not behave as small-minded sojourners who look to their feet and the stumbling stones as determinants; but rather be a mighty expeditioner who turns to the Heavens for guidance and to the Torah to chart the course. Travel through hardships and disappointments with faith, dignity, courage and morality. Yes, my friends, the expanse we transverse to get from here to there is holy ground. So remove your muddy squawking shoes from thine feet and henceforth ennoble your gait. Walk like a conqueror who triumphs over the moments with light and illuminates the ground beneath him and the world around him. And G-d said, “Let there be light, and there was light!”