Fellow Passengers: This week’s Promise Passage* (Exodus 6:1-9) transports me to a slave gathering down by the Nile riverside, where ol’ man river keeps on rolling along. Slave song fills the air: You and me we sweat and strain, body all achin’ and wracked with pain. Tote that barge, lift that bale. Get a little drunk and you land in jail. Moses knows the song well, he has witnessed the “mighty crush the weak” empire from the inside out, and now he has gotten some insider information of a different sort, from the inside of God’s heart. The moans and groans of the slaves have reached God’s ears. The Lord has heard enough, and is ready to ignite a rebellion. Moses is tapped to lead the liberation front; he is ready to sing a different song, he woke up this morning with his mind stayed on freedom. Moses goes to give the good news to the suffering slaves: God is ready to take you out from under Egypt’s yoke! God is fixin’ to flex his arm and take the boot off your neck! It’s freedom time, y’all! Who’s ready for redemption? Who’s feeling rebellious?
The sad part of this story comes in the last verse. The people were too discouraged, too weighed down by the cruelty, to listen to Moses. His words of liberation were too good to be true. Though the rebellion and the release would all come to pass eventually, this is a point in their experience where the burdens pressed down so hard they didn’t have the capacity to catch the excitement of Moses’ call. I think many of us have had times in our lives when we could identify with this incapacity. These are the seasons of discouragement when any defiant dream of freedom we might have is like Sisyphus’ rock. We can only get it so far up the mountain before it rolls back down again. Pushing heavy hopes up a hill over and over again can deafen us to the promise of relief.
Thankfully, Moses keeps singing and God keeps His word. And eventually Sisyphus and his fellow slaves start hearing the different music. Maybe it’s out of the Baptist hymnal – Are you weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge. . . thou wilt find a solace there. Maybe the classic imagery of Sisyphus’ rock gives us inspiration to sing some classic rock: Take it easy, take it easy, don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy. Lighten up while you still can, don’t even try to understand, just find a place to make your stand, and take it easy. Gotta know if Your sweet love is gonna save me. . .
*Daily Passages are the weekday reflections of Stan Dotson, connecting culture to biblical texts. Each week takes its guiding theme for the daily posts from the gospel reading on Monday, the “Primary Passage.” This week’s theme is “Burdens.” As always, your feedback and comments are welcome. Feel free to share where the passages take you in your journey of faith.