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9.23.2010

TEVYE AND THE VOICE OF GOD

After almost 25 years of being in pastoral ministry, I found myself flooded with circumstances that were soaring way behind certain or stable.  After a very brief stay in Texas for a job that my physical limitations would not allow me to fulfill, we packed back up and headed home to Indiana, me alone in our vehicle and, my husband in the moving truck.  There are lots of miles and hours between Houston, Texas and Indiana.  Miles to think, and think, and think, and think some more.  My marriage had always been shaky at best and I was hanging on by a very thin thread presently.  While in Texas, faced with the fact that we would need to return due to health reasons, my mate had a huge breakdown of screaming and swearing, finally ending his tyrant with the words, "I want a divorce".  The drive home, alone in silence, was actually both excruciating and welcomed as I thought about what I should do, where I was at, all the disappointments I had in my life, my daughter's wedding in 6 weeks, now without a job.  To make matters worse our house still hadn't sold in Michigan and we were headed back to stay at my parents until we figured out what was next.   I physically felt barely able to function, let alone drive back across the country by myself.  Those hours and days I mostly spent praying and crying, buffeted by doubt and fear and uncertainty.  Three days later - emotionally, physically and spiritually battered, we rolled into my parents drive.  They, only knowing we returned due to physical issues, had little idea of what else was going on.  For the next three months both my husband and I looked for jobs but could not seem to find anything.  It was very difficult to be not in stellar shape in most arenas of my life while living with your parents whose house you left 25 years previous.  I tried to go with the flow of eating 3 huge meals a day, harvesting garden produce at the volume of 20 gallons of green beans a day, listening to them bicker at each other, complain about their church, read ethnic names out of the paper and give a racist byline while doing it, physically doing tasks that fill their lives daily.  I seemed unable to let them know the depth of my struggle.  Many times, to escape both my parents and my husband, I would do just as I did in my youth - walk, run or bike alone.  It was during one of those very, very long bike rides that I began to have this very unusual interaction with God.  As I looked over all the unstable, unsured things that dominated my life right then I heard the voice of Tevye from "Fiddler On The Roof" swell inside my head and heart.  If you remember the movie or the broadway play, Tevye is the father who battles with God in outward conversational dialogue over his attempt to maintain his family and religious traditions in a changing world as 3 of his 5 daughters marry, each one going a little further outside of tradition to do so.  His laments to God are over all this uncertainty around him.  I felt like Tevye that day on my bike.  Literally it welled up in me this complete and total uncertainty over everything and every area of my life.  It wanted to take me down spiritually as well.  To this day it is the strangest thing, but I began to hear God in Tevye's Russian voice sing to my spirit, "Do you trust me?" (sung to the tune of "Do You Love Me?" sung by Tevye to his wife Golde in the movie).  At first I said nothing, rattled over this very strange thing that was occurring.  I heard it again clearly and loudly singing with a solid confidence that was asking me, "Do you trust me?"  It was plain God was simply holding out this rope of love and He wanted me to trust Him for everything in every area that was uncertain.  I very timidly and quietly sang back, "Yes, I trust You."   Just like musically in the movie, the notes changed a bit implying with the same words, a more imploring tone, "Do you trust me?"  I sang it back again a little bit stronger, "Yes, I trust You."    This went on for a few miles until my heart was convinced that I could trust God - that I was willing to trust merely because He was trustworthy.  The fiddler in the film and historically signifies joyfulness and tradition (God) in a life of uncertainty and imbalance.  That was exactly the picture of my life right then.  God was asking me that day on my bike not only would I trust Him, but could I find joyfulness in the midst of all the uncertainty and imbalance.   Eventually we both found jobs, our daughter was married, we sold our house in Michigan and bought one Indiana, living with my parents finally came to an end, and when marriage became devastatingly harmful we divorced.  Again recently I have been faced with swells of uncertainty in this life of new singleness.  Once again this week I heard the voice of God with a distinctive Tevye flair sing to my spirit enticing me, imploring me back to the land of trust for all things uncertain.  Would I chose joy and God in uncertainty and imbalance in my life?  I sang back loudly, "Yes, I trust You!"

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