Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Reality 1, Denial 0

The other night Carol and I saw The Pursuit of Happyness, based somewhat on the book of the same name. The hero, Chris, drove me batty for the first half of the show; he constantly said things would be OK, though taxes weren't paid and they were 3 months behind on the rent. He worked hard and persevered, but he had to move, first to a motel and then into homeless shelters. The story has a happy ending, but his denial of reality made his situation worse.

Pharaoh king of Egypt had the same issue: he didn't like the way things were going in his confrontation with Moses, but his stubbornness made the situation a whole lot worse. You may remember that Moses asked Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go; when Pharaoh refused, Moses started with a few demonstrations of power. Pharaoh summoned sorcerers etc., and "the magicians did the same things by their secret arts...." (Exodus 8.7 inter alia).

At some point, Moses and Aaron did things that the magicians couldn't do, and more destructive things, too. Hail came, destroying crops and killing livestock. Moses told Pharaoh to let the people go, lest locusts come and devour what little was left. It was at this point that ...
Pharaoh's officials said to him, "How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the people go, so that they may worship the Lord their God. Do you not yet realize that Egypt is ruined?"
Exodus 10.7
Incredibly enough, Pharaoh ignores his officials; locusts, darkness, and thousands upon thousands of deaths follow. Reality seems to have a way of barging in on our fantasies.

And so it is today: people don't save money, but they're hoping to send their kids to college, or to retire. Or both. The typical father talks with his children a few seconds a day, but he thinks it's several minutes. Looking back, I see that I've said many thoughtless and hurtful things, while yet thinking myself a nice guy.

I guess that's why we should ask God to help us to be unlike Pharaoh -- that we would pay attention to reality, listen to God, be willing to change course when we've made mistakes.

If you're like me, that's hard to do. Who likes admitting he's been wrong? So I think we also need strength from God to accept the truth as well -- something else to ask him for!

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