Tag Archives: lost

Crossing the Ford of the Jabbok

PrayingHear my prayer, O Lord, Give ear to my supplications! Answer me in Your faithfulness, in Your righteousness! And do not enter into judgment with Your servant, For in Your sight no man living is righteous. For the enemy has persecuted my soul; He has crushed my life to the ground; He has made me dwell in dark places, like those who have long been dead. Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; My heart is appalled within me. I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your doings; I muse on the work of Your hands. I stretch out my hands to You; My soul longs for You, as a parched land. Selah.

Psalm 143:1-6 (NASB)

Part of the Returning to the Tent of David series

This is the “flip side” to this morning’s meditation, The Christianization of Acts 15. Every couple of weeks or so, I have coffee and conversation with a friend who is smarter and wiser than I am. Certainly, his spirit is far closer to God than mine. I often tell him of my thoughts and feelings and he is direct and forthright in his response.

This is a continuation of my Returning to the Tent of David series since it has a direct connection to my reacquaintance with the church and how I have been conducting myself within its walls.

Apparently, I haven’t been doing so well.

I spend a fair amount of time expressing my point of view on this blog. I guess that’s OK since, after all, it is my blog, my platform for talking about my experiences as they occur. But I also air out my opinions of and frustrations with the church and its members on occasion. I commented to my friend that I felt my Sunday school teacher is rather dogmatic in how he presents his lessons. And the instant the words left my lips, I knew what he was going to say.

So am I, just with a different point of view.

I’ve been spending a lot of time presenting and expressing my opinions. But what about God? That is, who is expending the effort here and whose purpose is being served, mine or God’s? In my friend’s view, it’s the former, totally.

No, he isn’t being too hard on me and in fact, I have every reason to believe he speaks not only with an honest heart, but from the heart of God. I’ve been studying and using what I’ve learned as a sword or a club to “go after” those with whom I disagree, and without the slightest concern about God’s desires. I guess I assumed that if I was doing this, it must be what God wants, but that was arrogant presumption on my part. I never even considered the possibility that I wasn’t in the right spiritual frame from which to conduct such activities.

No, it doesn’t mean I’m going to stop going to church, attending Sunday school, or meeting with my Pastor (unless none of them will have me anymore). It does mean I need to take a step backward and start “preparing” for these actions in a different way.

Yes, studying the Bible is good. Studying intelligent and informative commentaries is good. But is it the mind and will of God that makes change, not the efforts of mere men.

There’s little doubt that my Pastor and I, in meeting together, are each trying to help the other change in a particular direction. Of course, I learn a great deal from these conversations, but I’m also hoping to impart something as well. But so far, I’m the only one doing the imparting. Has God been in my voice? Am I even aware of His presence in the Pastor’s office? For that matter, am I aware of God’s presence in the chapel during services or in the classroom during Sunday school?

Man aloneThe vast majority of the time, I must say “no.”

My friend keeps suggesting I “meditate” on the Bible, but the word “meditate” seems indistinct to me. He says it’s matter of considering a portion of scripture and mulling it over. What does it mean? What does it mean to me? What can it tell me about God and about myself? What scripture should I choose?

I meditate on all Your doings;
I muse on the work of Your hands.

I read books, including the Bible, as fast as I can, as if I’m in some sort of race to cover the maximum amount of territory in the least amount of time. I’m only mortal and my span on this sphere is exceptionally limited. God is infinite and forever. He can afford to take His time. After all, it is His time; He made it. Time exists only within His will and should He desire, time would cease to exist and scurry back to the nothingness from whence it came.

“In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David,
And wall up its breaches;
I will also raise up its ruins
And rebuild it as in the days of old;
That they may possess the remnant of Edom
And all the nations who are called by My name,”
Declares the Lord who does this.

Amos 9:11-12 (NASB)

I keep coming back to these verses because they define my purpose within a “Hebraic” and “Messianic” context. I say “my purpose” but it’s really the purpose of any non-Jewish disciple of Messiah, “the nations who are called by My Name,” says the Lord. It’s the “job description” for Gentile disciples of the Jewish Messiah who perceive that they are operating within a Jewish religious and spiritual context and not necessarily inside of “goyishe Christianity.”

I’m not trying to be insulting, but consider who our King is and from where he will reign. Can there be any doubt that Moshiach our King is and will be King of Israel, King of the Jews, and only out of all that is he King of the World?

But I’m getting ahead of myself again. Humility is something I didn’t think far from my grasp, but a guess I am farther from its sheltering arms than I imagined. This isn’t my battle. I didn’t come here to fight. I came here to serve God. What an interesting thought, since it never occurred to me to say it that way before. I always thought, harkening back to Boaz’s book, that I returned to the church to help breach the gap between the traditional fundamental and evangelical perspective on Jesus, the Bible, and everything and how it all should be seen within the Jewish context, using Jewish terms, Hebrew language, and especially removing the paint from “Joseph’s” alien face (Genesis 45:4) to reveal the son of Jacob or more to the point, the son of David…the Jewish son and firstborn of Israel. The son of God.

man-without-a-coatIf this is how you want me to serve you God, then I have to admit I haven’t been doing such a good job. If this isn’t what you’ve wanted me to do, then I’ve been doing an even worse job than I thought.

How can I promote any form of healing at all by “banging heads” with other people or by beating my head against a wall? When Jacob wrestled the Divine, in midrash, it is said that Jacob wrestled with his doubts, or his evil inclination, or his own dark angel. He had to conquer something in himself before he could take the next steps back into the Land his descendants would one day inherit, the Land of Promise. Is that my mission as well, to conquer something within myself?

That I should slow down, take time with scripture, mull and turn over the Word in my mind and heart, meditate on His wisdom day and night is all worthy and right, and I’ve been in too much of a hurry to actually do it. Where will my spirit and the Spirit of God find a common meeting ground? Jacob arose at night, crossed the ford of the Jabbok and was left alone. There he encountered God. Jacob wrestled for the rest of the night and when the sun began to dawn, the battle was still raging. Jacob’s “companion,” seeing he had not prevailed, injured Jacob, permanently disabling him (see Genesis 32:22-32). But Jacob also received a blessing, a new name, and a mission to form a dynasty; to  ultimately become the father of a mighty nation that belongs only to God.

I seriously doubt my destiny is such a great thing in God’s eyes or in man’s. And yet there must be some reason for my existence, else God would have long since extinguished me, like I might blow out a candle. Not that I’m such a great light or even a small one. Who can glory in their own light when confronted with the blazing inferno of an Everlasting God? Only a fool. I pray that I am no fool, though I know I’ve been foolish.

God will judge us not according to how much we endured, but how much we could love.

-Richard Wurmbrand

Whatever God wants me to do could easily fail if it was all up to me. Having launched myself in a particular direction for nearly a year, I haven’t looked back and I haven’t checked the map. I just figured if I went in a nice, straight line, I’d end up where I’m supposed to be. But there are no nice straight lines in my terrain, only back alleys, narrow corridors, dark tunnels, and labyrinthine passages. Getting lost if I am the only navigator is a foregone conclusion.

…but whatever your original intentions, you have become truly lost.

-Ducard (played by Liam Neeson)
Batman Begins (2005)

extinguished_candleIs that me? Maybe. Or maybe it’s what I’m on my way to becoming. But according to my friend, it’s not too late. I can slow down the horse, so to speak, take stock of my surroundings, renew my connection to God, through the Bible, through meditation on His Word, through prayer, through sincere repentance. Like a watchman on the walls of the city at night, I rely on the Presence of God as I await the dawn, considering His mighty deeds, recalling Days of Old, meditating upon Him in my heart.

My voice rises to God, and I will cry aloud;
My voice rises to God, and He will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord;
In the night my hand was stretched out without weariness;
My soul refused to be comforted.
When I remember God, then I am disturbed;
When I sigh, then my spirit grows faint. Selah.
You have held my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I have considered the days of old,
The years of long ago.
I will remember my song in the night;
I will meditate with my heart,
And my spirit ponders…

Psalm 77:1-6 (NASB)

And my spirit ponders…as I cross the ford of the Jabbok and am left alone in the dark…waiting.

Squiggle

squiggly-lineAnd the Lord said to Job: “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.”

Then Job answered the Lord and said: “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.”

Job 40:1-5

As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

Romans 9:13-24

Pastor Randy is back!

It’s only temporary as he’s leading a group on a two-week trip to Israel in the middle of this month (and alas, I won’t be going with them), but we renewed our conversation last Wednesday evening. We spent very little time in Lancaster’s Galatians book, but we did revisit Calvin and his five points, otherwise known as “TULIP:”

  • Total Depravity (also known as Total Inability and Original Sin)
  • Unconditional Election
  • Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement)
  • Irresistible Grace
  • Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved Always Saved)

Oy.

I have to admit, Romans 9:13-24 is a devastating argument and one that I can’t ignore. The last time this came up in our conversations, I blogged about it and came to the uneasy peace that God’s mercy outweighs His justice and He desires that none should die, but all live in Christ.

And even Jesus said that “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16), which does not seem to mean for God so loved the elect… He loved…loves the world.

But what do I do with all this? I happen to agree that “He who makes the universe makes the rules” and that God is sovereign over all, even when we don’t like how He expresses His ultimate sovereignty over our existence.

If God “pre-chose” who would be saved and who wouldn’t be, who am I to argue?

But one of the things I really like about Judaism is that it’s OK to wrestle with God about the “hard stuff” and not be afraid (though I expect to get banged up in the process).

One theory of “election” is that God already knew before He created the universe who would accept Him in faith and who would not, so the “elect” are simply those who would have chosen God anyway and the “non-elect” are those who, no matter what, would never have accepted God.

eph-2-10-potter-clayBut that’s not how Romans 9:13-24 reads. It reads like God made His decision and, as his creations, as clay jars from the potter’s hands, we have nothing to say about how we are formed, if we are formed “saved” or “doomed.”

On the other hand (I actually argued this last Wednesday), we are all formed in God’s image, which means that everyone has something of the Divine in them/us. We are all searching for God, granted some in pretty malformed ways, but that’s why the very concept of “spirituality” exists in our world.

Pastor Randy didn’t buy it.

But I do remember reading a Rabbinic commentary (I can’t remember where anymore) that said part of being made in God’s image has to do with having a built-in desire to do good as God does good, which may account for both religious people and atheists trying to help our fellow human beings. Even the person who denies the existence of God still is made up of the essence of God, the Divine spark within man.

And free will is one of the effects of being made in God’s image according to the Aish.com Rabbis. But if we are “pre-chosen” since before the creation of the universe and we absolutely cannot lose our salvation as a “pre-chosen” group of people, then free will is an illusion.

Or is it?

I won’t give the details, but Pastor Randy did tell me a story that undercut his own argument. Apparently, he knew a man who was an exceptionally fine Pastor and Christian, a man who served God and man unswervingly for decades, a man who no one doubted was is in God’s hand and that doing the will of God was his only waking thought.

Then he suffered a terrible tragedy, but not one any more difficult than many other Christians. The effect through, was astounding. Again, I won’t paint you the full picture, but this man of God, who even Pastor Randy was convinced was a trustworthy servant of the Most High, did a terrible thing and sinned against not just a few, but ultimately against anyone who had ever believed in him.

Most of the time, if we take a Calvinist point of view, we can look at a “Christian” and realize that they are not really committed to Messiah as shown by their behaviors, their “fruits,” so to speak. Yes, even the best of us struggle with sin, but there’s a difference between that, and remaining captured by the ways of the present world and only paying lip service to God.

The falling of Pastor Randy’s friend was almost literally something that came out of left field, a totally unanticipated event. How could it have possibly happened? Even Pastor Randy is baffled. Either this guy was a world-class actor, or there is something wrong with Calvin’s theory. It could mean that God has allowed some small part of us to be completely outside of His control.

Free will.

fallingBut if God’s plan is absolute, cannot be defeated, and if God Himself can’t be surprised, what do we do with free will and what do we do with election?

We talked about another interesting thing that relates to all of the above: sequencing.

As human beings living in linear time, we understand the world in terms of sequencing. That is, something happens first, then second, then third, and so on.

But as far as I’m concerned, God isn’t subject to linear time. He doesn’t “see into the future” or “look into the past.” He exists outside of creation (although He can intersect it) and is not subject to the rules of our reality. For God, there is no before, during, and after…there is just is.

OK, this is all speculation, but what the heck, I can’t lose anything by giving it a shot.

God decides to create the universe but saying that, it really means that God has already created the universe, God is in the process of creating the universe, and God is about to create the universe, all at once. It also means some interesting things. God gives man free will to choose or not to choose Him but that happens at the same time (everything happens at the same time from God’s point of view) as us making all of the decisions we’re ever going to make from birth to death. Literally, the act of God creating the universe means that He is not just starting the universe and then letting it progress, He’s creating the universe from Big Bang to the last gasp of entropy and everything that occurs in-between in a single, unified act.

Try to get the implications of all this.

It doesn’t mean that God created the universe, and then the earth, and then the garden, and then Adam, and then Eve, and then all the animals, and then watched Adam and Eve sin, and then the fall happened, and then sin entered the world, and then….

It means that God created the universe, sun, moon, stars, earth, garden, humans (all of us), and at the same time, all we humans committed every single event every single living being would ever, ever commit from zero to infinity, all as the same creative act.

Yes, I can’t prove any of it so don’t ask me to try. This is just my imagination shooting off sparks and hoping that some illumination will occur.

But what if it’s true? What would it mean? It would mean that at the instant of creation, predetermination and free will, even seemingly minor and random actions (how dust motes float through the air), all happened in a single instant and as a single action.

It’s only from a human being’s point of view from inside the bubble of creation that concepts like election and free will have any “legs” so to speak. It’s not like God decided who was saved and who wasn’t before they were born, exactly. And it’s not like we have free will to defy God and His plan, exactly. Our decisions from birth to death were all part of the creation process. Yes, we will make, are making, and have made those decisions of our own “free will,” but since our entire lifetimes go “squiggling” across the nearly infinite panorama of cosmic history, we’re all part of the single creative act by God wherein He “created” that history.

It’s terrifically metaphysical and impossible to truly communicate in human language, since we (including me) are all designed to communicate accurately only about the environment contained in God’s creation. “Metacommunication” is practically a “mystic art” since it requires describing the indescribable.

creationThat’s the closest thing I can come up with to explain why God isn’t heartless and cruel (though, as Job 40 and Romans 9 seem to say, I don’t have the right to question…but as Genesis 32 seems to say, I do) and at the same time, feebly try to explain the co-existence of man’s free will and God’s total sovereignty. I know my theory’s got more holes than a golf course, but as I said, it’s the best I can do.

I think God created the universe exercising just slightly more mercy than He did justice, so we’d even have a fighting chance, but given that, at the moment of creation, our lives flashed across history like a hyper-energized photon, so even if creation took any time at all from God’s perspective, within that unimaginably fleeting instant, we made all of the free will decisions we would ever make, and when God declared creation a done deal, so were all our decisions…a lifetime’s worth.

It just seems as if we have future decisions to make from inside linear time.

So God has mercy on whomever He wills and hardens whomever He wills. Because His will was, is, and will be the will of Creation and we human beings willed (are willing, are about to will) inside of that creative act.

A lousy theory, I admit. If you’ve got a better one that explains all the facts and still accounts for God’s sovereign will and man’s free will, I’m all ears.

Oh, and if the hard and fast rule of Divine Election turns out to be true, what do we do about Luke 14:15-24?

142 days.

Knocking On Heaven’s Door

One of the hardest chinuch matters to deal with is what to do when faced with a student who is in a decline, whose presence in the yeshiva can be harmful to the other bochurim. Sometimes, the only option a rosh yeshiva may feel he has is to ask the student to leave.

When Rav Boruch Ber Lebovitz, zt”l, needed to send a student out of the yeshiva, he literally wept, expressing his love for his wayward student. When a student who had taken a negative path recounted how Rav Boruch Ber had told him he had to leave the yeshiva, he was overcome with emotion. “It was obvious that he didn’t want me to leave, that he would have done anything to allow me to stay. One felt as though he was compelled from on high to expel me, even though this was the furthest thing from his desire. Believe me he was more upset about the matter than I was at the time.”

The Beis Yisrael of Gur, zt”l, was known to be very sharp—and to be a leader of similarly sharp chassidim—yet he could also be extremely gentle. When one of his chassidim had a fall, some members of the community wished to banish him. But the rebbe would never allow them to do so as long as the young man continued to pray with them at the shteibel.

He would explain, “In Temurah 11 we find that if a person declares the foot of an animal an olah, the holiness spreads out to the entire animal. This hints to the fact that even if a person only sanctifies his foot by going to a kosher beis midrash, in the end he will change directions and ascend again in teshuvah. The holiness in his feet will spread out to his entire self.”

He would often quote an inspiring vort of Rav Zusia of Anapoli, zt”l, “The verse states… ‘They are a topsy-turvy generation.’ Rav Zusia explained that we never know where a Jew will end up. He is constantly in an upheaval; one day he may be very far, yet the next he can do a complete about-face and become a truly good Jew. Who can delve into the deepest places of the Jewish soul, which is a portion of Godliness from above?”

Daf Yomi Digest
Stories Off the Daf
“About Face”
Temurah 11

My past two meditations have been discussing the general and personal implications of a video I recently saw, recording the lament of Rev. LeeAnne Watkins, Rector at St. Marys Episcopal Church St. Paul, Minnesota, and the decision made by the church’s ministry to stop all of their adult educational programs. When reading the above-quoted Daf this morning (it’s Sunday as I’m writing this), I couldn’t help but think that this is what Rev. Watkins and the other shepherds at St Marys have done…to most of the people attending their church. No, they didn’t literally kick these folks out, but they did give up on them, and on themselves as ministers. As I mentioned in my previous blog, I can certainly understand the temptation to give up, which in my case, is giving up on me, but the consequences are enormous. Consider what the Master had to say on this topic:

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” –Matthew 18:15-20 (ESV)

The first part of this scripture details the specific process by which a sinner among the congregation is confronted and addressed at each step of his or her refusal to acknowledge their sin, first to the offended party, then to a small group, and finally in front of the entire congregation. If the person still refuses to repent (which also closely mirrors the quote from the Daf I posted), then the sinful person is told to leave. I can only imagine there would be quite a bit of angst in this final part, but there’s more to it. In the last few verses of the quote from Matthew 18, there appears to be more than natural consequences to such an act of rejection. Whatever the congregation does, as an authority and representative of the Master, is also permitted by the Heavenly authority as well. This tells me that we should be extremely careful who we discard, since we are evicting them, not just from our local church or faith community, but perhaps out of the Kingdom of Heaven as well.

When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. –1 Corinthians 5:4-5 (ESV)

That sounds very serious…and very final. But Paul also said this:

By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. –1 Timothy 1:19-20 (ESV)

That sounds a tad more temporary. To me, it sounds like Hymenaeus and Alexander were handed over to the adversary until they learned not to blaspheme. Does that mean they’d be able to re-enter the congregation and the Kingdom if they repented? I hope so. No one should be condemned forever unless they choose to be irredeemable. Some people do make that permanent choice, but not everyone. Let’s review part of the commentary from the Daf again:

Rav Zusia explained that we never know where a Jew will end up. He is constantly in an upheaval; one day he may be very far, yet the next he can do a complete about-face and become a truly good Jew. Who can delve into the deepest places of the Jewish soul, which is a portion of Godliness from above?”

Couldn’t that also be applied to an errant disciple of the Master? Didn’t the Master himself teach that return is always possible with repentance?

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. –Luke 15:17-24 (ESV)

I’ve heard it said that the church is the only army that shoots its own wounded. It has learned the first part of what to do with an unproductive tree that is not fruitful, but it sometimes forgets that Jesus also taught that the prodigal son should be allowed to return. I’m not condemning Rev. Watkins and, as I said, I can very much understand what she’s saying and even agree with her on various levels, but I also hope that St Marys will be open to shepherding their flock at whatever point the sheep decide to return to the fold. This gets a little confusing when we remember that Jesus also taught that a good shepherd would leave ninety-nine sheep in the flock to retrieve even one lost sheep (Luke 15:4). Maybe giving up on all of the adult ed programs at St Mary’s is an effort to “go after” the lost sheep. Or maybe it’s like the old joke that asks, “Why did the farmer hit the mule in the head with a stick?” The answer is, “to get its attention.”

I’m not just talking about the church giving up on its sheep but on us giving up on ourselves. It isn’t just the church’s fault if their programs and their activities aren’t attracting people, it’s our fault for not participating in the community of faith. Each of us, as individuals, have to decide the direction of our walk of faith. If we give up on that walk or tarry too slowly along the path, why should we be surprised when we find that the community has decided to leave us behind? Indeed, why should we be surprised and even astonished, when we discover that God has left us behind, and given us into the company of a far less savory fellow?

But we can still come back, both to the community and to God.

The words and the stories of Torah are but its clothing; the guidance within them is its body.

And, as with a body, within that guidance breathes a soul that gives life to whoever follows it.

And within that soul breathes a deeper, transcendental soul, the soul of the soul: G-d Himself within His Torah.

Grasp the clothes alone and you have an empty shell. Grasp straight for the soul—or even the body—and you will come up with nothing. They are not graspable; they are G-dly wisdom and you are a created being.

Instead, examine those words and those stories, turn them again and again. As fine clothes and jewelry can bring out the beauty of the one who wears them, so these words and stories can lead you to the G-dliness that dwells within the Torah.

-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
“Grab the Clothing”
Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe
Rabbi M. M. Schneerson
Chabad.org

I’m encouraged when I can see that the Bible I hold in my hands is not a mere book, but an interface imbued with the Holiness and Presence of God. Although God, as the Rabbi teaches, is not to be accessed directly in any sense, by reading and studying and responding to the Word, and the Word made flesh, even in our darkest moments, we are allowed to return in repentance, just by touching the hem of His garment, or perhaps in the Master’s case, just by touching the merest threads of his tzitzit.

But then, a woman with a flow of blood for twelve years approached from behind him and touched the corner of his garment, for she said in her heart, “If only I touch his garment, I will be saved (from her ailment).” Yeshua turned and saw her and said, “Be strong, my daughter. Your faith has saved you.” The woman was saved from that time on. –Matthew 9:20-22 (DHE Gospels)

We can choose to go back, no matter how long we’ve been gone and we will be accepted by God in the Kingdom, as the angels sing His praises. May the church that has sent away those who have failed, also open their doors and their hearts to everyone who has tried and failed, and to those who sincerely seek to return home. We’re all knocking on heaven’s door.