Strange Land, Foreign Land, Promised Land Series
Contributed by Joseph Smith on Dec 1, 2002 (message contributor)
Summary: A poetic, impressionistic rendering of Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus, presented by two readers in dialogue
Every day is unique, every time is new. Never before have
these same things happened, never again will this moment
come. But the one who made this day, the one who is ever
new, knows this moment. And knew that moment in which
all things would be fulfilled.
Each day is a gift. And each time an opportunity. Never
before had this happened, never again will it happen in
this way. But the one who is beyond time, the one who
is timeless and yet acts within time, the one who made
time, knew that moment. And knew it as a moment for
In the beginning was the Word. That Word brooded over the
inky darkness of nothing, calling nothing to become
something, calling disorder to become order, calling waste
and void to become fruitful and multiplied. In the beginning,
the Word created.
But in that same beginning the Word spoke clearly both
of fellowship and of sin, of both relationship and
brokenness. In that same beginning the Word
commanded, “Thou shalt not” and then whispered, “For
I love you.” “It is not that I wish to make life hard for
you. It is that I wish to make life possible for you.
Freedom – you must have freedom. If you are not free,
you cannot love me as the author and giver of your life.
If you are not free, I cannot love you and lead you. You
must be free.” In the beginning, the Word created.
Brothers and sisters, we are created in a strange land. We
are planted in a place not of our own making. But it is home.
If we are created here and called here, it is home, even when
it feels strange to us. From home we have chosen to
wander, from home to go to foreign lands whose customs
are alien and whose way of life leads only to death. Still we
are prone to wander, prone to leave the one who loves us.
Into desert places we stumble, thinking they are oases of
delight. But they are not. There danger lies and death.
And in those foreign lands where we have gone, we
found ourselves ill at ease, sick of heart, in misery.
Where we had thought we might delight in fleshpots
and frivolity, we came to ourselves and found that it was
vanity, emptiness, distortion, and pain. In those foreign
lands where we have gone, we cried out to go back
home, but could not find the way. Home was again a
strange land. It could not be seen. Yet we knew – we
knew – that this foreign land, this land of exile, this land
of stupid self-indulgence – was not our heart’s home.
Who would deliver us from this body of death?
In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God,
and the word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being through him ... He was in the
world, yet the world did not know him. In the heart of God,
from the dawn of our history, God intended to bring us back
home. To bring us home by settling us in strange lands,
letting us wander in foreign lands, but finally calling us to
lands of promise, lands of open expanse and unclouded day,
lands where we could live in peace and fulfillment.
Let us give thanks for the promised land to which we
are called. But let us remember that we must be
discerning and obedient to God’s call. And let us
remember as well the strange lands and the foreign
lands through which we must travel before we arrive at
the promised land.
God called Abraham into a strange land. “Go from your
father’s house into a land which I will show you.” And
Abraham believed God, struck his tent in Haran, and set out
for a land whose boundaries he did not know, whose people
he did not understand, and whose resources were not his to
own. But Abraham believed God and responded when God
called him to a strange land. “I will make of you a great
people, a blessing to all nations.” That call gave Abraham
courage to be in a land not his by birthright.
God called Isaac into this same strange land. Isaac, the
child long awaited. Isaac, the child whose mother could
not wait and whose father would not wait. Isaac, led to
the mountainside, the altar of sacrifice, kindling, a
sharpened blade. How awesome! Is this all there is? Is
this to be the end of all our hopes? Is this the night of
our worst fears? Cut short?
But no. God called Abraham and Isaac and then Jacob.
That struggler. That wrestler. That warrior at the Brook