I was wrapping up another wonderful trip to the orphanage in Carmen Serdan, BC Mexico. A place that we lived and served at for a couple years about 20 years ago. A place that I have visited often since. It holds a special place in my heart, and always will.
The last morning of this particular trip I took the short walk up the little hill behind the bodega. It is a place that virtually everyone who visits the mission finds themselves at some point.
And I stood there, on this little hill looking over the valley – beautiful, green and the mountains surrounding it. Air was fresh: a little mist still falling.
Roosters crowing and cow mooing; the Ejido was waking up; chicken farm was visible in the distance very bucolic!
(I was treated to a scene you don’t see often… here or anywhere for that matter… a man taking his pig for a morning walk, interesting…)
Many of the landmarks around the mission have been given names over the years by workers from the mission who have explored the area. The locals have their names as well, of course, but that never stopped us from coming up with our own.
One of the named landmarks is Sinai, the highest of the peaks on the other side of the valley.
It had rained the night before and the clouds were still hanging low so that the top of Sinai was covered in clouds.
I could not help but consider the passage I had read just minutes before in the book of Deuteronomy:
And I stood there rehearsing the passage over and over in my mind and looking at Sinai covered in “thick darkness” and marveled that the Israelites literally heard the voice of God (don’t know if you realize that – the ten commandment were given first audibly by God). Thunder and lightening accompanying the giving of the law…. Awesome!
The LORD spoke these words with a loud voice to all of you from the heart of the fire, surrounded by clouds and deep darkness. This was all he said at that time, and he wrote his words on two stone tablets and gave them to me. But when you heard the voice from the darkness, while the mountain was blazing with fire, all your tribal leaders came to me. They said, ‘the LORD our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice from the heart of the fire. Today we have seen God speaking to humans, and yet we live! But now, why should we die? If the LORD our God speaks to us again, we will certainly die and be consumed by this awesome fire. Can any living thing hear the voice of the living God from the heart of the fire and yet survive? You go and listen to what the LORD our God says. Then come and tell us everything he tells you, and we will listen and obey.
“The LORD heard your request and said to me, ‘I have heard what the people have said to you, and they are right. Oh, that they would always have hearts like this, that they might fear me and obey all my commands! If they did, they and their descendants would prosper forever.
Yet, the people of Israel would soon turn their back on the living God and on the law He had given them.
An indisputable demonstration of God’s power and yet the people disregarded it and turned their back.
I stood there a long time and looked at that mountain and pondered these things…
Then I turned around.
And immediately my eyes filled with tears and began to run down my face as I looked at what stands upon the little mountain behind the bodega… It is a 12 foot tall cross.
And I wept as I looked at that cross.
Oh Lord, I prayed, may we never turn our back to the message declared on that mountain. On Mount Calvary! When again in the midst of thunder and lightning and earthquakes you spoke once again.
But this time it was:
· Not of thou shalt not but Father forgive them
· Not of do this, but of IT IS FINISHED
· Not of death, but of life
· Not a message of Law but of GRACE
And the Lord spoke to my heart in the moment… Can you hear me now?