Isaiah 43:19 (MSG) This is what God says, the God who builds a
road right through the ocean, who carves a path through pounding waves,
The God who summons horses and chariots and armies--
they lie down and then can’t get up; they’re snuffed out like so many candles:
“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is!
I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.
Wild animals will say ‘Thank you! —the coyotes and the buzzards--
Because I provided water in the desert, rivers through the sun-baked earth,
Drinking water for the people I chose, the people I made especially for myself,
a people custom-made to praise me.
Since I began preaching at the age of sixteen, I could never get through a sermon without crying; today I can at least make it to the benediction without crying. There is something about, as Glaser puts it, the hope and promises of God that bring you to tears. However, I have come to realize that my tears are dynamic. My tears when giving a sermon are not the same tears when I come home alone. To question Glaser- what does one do when they cannot see God’s provision of love everywhere?
I cannot pinpoint the moment I converted from horror films and watching wrestling to romantic comedies and watching hallmark movies. I guess when you turn thirty there is a shift in your desires that yields a shift in preferences. I am at the age where most of my friends and family were settled with a spouse and kids. What do you do when love does not find its way to you? The love of God is one thing, but I am no longer of the religious belief that Jesus or God is your spouse. So I too, like Michael Glaser cry at movies, but for me it is usually when there is an expression of love exhibited that I have yet to experience. So “my tears are a dance of joy” but they remain clear water drops because of an empty hope built on a movie, nothing else. When I read the Glaser poem Why I cry at Movies the last two stanzas echoed Isaiah 43 when God’s people are instructed to Look! Stay alert and watch for something new to occur in their lives, in fact the new thing (new love, new opportunity, new relationships, new provisions) are being made available now in the place where you feel most deserted.
What are you looking for that you do not trust God to provide? Where can you see God even in your personal deserts? How can you be a provision of love, opportunity, or relationship to someone you do not know? What have you beared witness to that affirms God love? In Glaser’s poem, our tears bear witness to God’s goodness.
Another struggle I had with this poem is that my tears also bear witness to injustices that are done in the name of God’s love for a particular group of people or a particular country. Like prophetic literature, Glaser offers positive words of hope followed by a responsibility. It appears that in the final stanza the author prompts the thought that we are the vehicles of expressing God’s love throughout the world; the goodness is in us. If that is the case then I believe we have stunted the mission with expressing God’s vengeance more than God’s love.
Prayer: All-loving God, the one who is an eternal flame, ignite our hearts to spread love to all people. To the God of provision, provide according to our needs and teach us to be full of your provisions even if we do not get all of what we desired.