Thursday, January 10, 2008

Basket Case

But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. The she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile (Exodus 2:3)

Are you a basket case?

“I hope not,” is likely to be your answer. Perhaps, in a fit of honesty, you’d say “I am but I do a pretty good job of hiding it.” A basket case is not something that excites our aspirations. A basket case is a mess: ragged nerves, distracted mind, weary body. All of that and more is usually implied when we use the phrase.

Moses was a basket case – but not in the way you might think, and not simply because he was hidden in a basket. The Hebrew word in Exodus 2:3 is “tevah.” The word is the same word used in Genesis 6:14 of the ark – the vessel that saved Noah and his family from the waters of the flood.

The basket that held the infant Moses is significant for two reasons. For one, it is the means of salvation, hiding the child from the threat of death. As with Noah, the basket protects from the water, water which was meant to be the place of drowning Hebrew boys. The basket hides Moses from a death sentence imposed by racial profiling.

The other significance of the basket is the way it represents an act of radical trust on the part of Moses’ mother. She places her child in the basket, no longer able to hide him in the home where she can see him and hold him. The basket speaks to an act of letting go, placing into God’s hands that which is treasured and loved. Did she struggle to do this? We can only imagine what thoughts fill her mind as she covers the basket with tar and pitch, sealing tightly every seam and gap in the papyrus. She does all she can to insure his well being. But the day comes when she wraps her son, places him in the basket, and makes the walk to the reedy banks of the Nile where she will leave him.

A basket case is something you care about so deeply that you’re willing to relinquish it into the hands of God.

Your marriage can be a basket case. Your search for meaningful work can be a basket case. Your adolescent child, your mother and her growing dementia, your diagnosis, your recovery, your dreams for the future – so many parts of life need to be placed in the basket and yielded to God’s saving work.

Jesus told us that if we clutch and grasp at life we lose it; when we’re willing to lose life, place it in the basket, then we find it. Strange as it sounds, when you’re a basket case you’re at your best. What is there in your life that needs to be placed in the basket today?

Make me a basket case today, O Lord. Show me how to place my life into your hands. Teach me how to trust you with those people and situations that matter most deeply to me. Help me to loosen my choke-hold on life so that I can enter into the abundant life you intend for me. Amen.

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