This is when times get difficult. Yet I still rejoice.

These past few days have brought some victories and a lot of crying.

When something good happens to me the first person I always wanted to tell was Dad. There was nothing like the look of pride on his face when he found out I was graduating, had gotten a new job, or become a Sunday school teacher. A few days ago, my husband and I became the proud owners of our first home. It was a major milestone for us both. As I have mentioned, the house is not entirely big, but it is perfect for my family now and our current situation. We have been blessed with continued growth financially and, as a result, our opportunity to provide our kids with a stable home life.

It was a bittersweet moment after we signed the 2,000,000 pages of paperwork we had to sign, because I so wanted to go and tell my Dad. On top of that, I had a job interview that went pretty well. I never got to show him the pictures of me at the Traverse City Film Festival, where I joined the very knowledgeable associates of the Bode & Fierberg law firm as a part of a panel to discuss the movie The Hunting Ground, which was about something personal to me–sexual assault on college campuses (this movie is a must-see for ALL young adults and their parents). I am thankful that my affiliation with RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) enabled me the opportunity to participate in the speaker’s panel and am looking for more ways to involve myself in the fight against sexual abuse. A link for the movie is here:

The Hunting Ground

Pictures of me at the event, along with the associates from Bode & Fierberg (Bode & Fierberg, LLC)

On stage at the TCFF

Speaking at the TCFF

(I’m the Black one :-))

I would encourage everyone to visit the website for Bode & Fierberg and see what these dedicated, extremely knowledgeable fight against. Their work is definitely admirable and unfortunately, very necessary. I saw some reviews of the movie and was upset. Some people took umbrage to the fact that a popular athlete was discussed, as though athletes are above unsavory behavior (I think we all know that is not the case). Others thought it was feminist propaganda. I wonder if they would listen to me tell my story and make the same comment.

Doubt it. No one can deny what happened to me. My story was the same as those girls in that movie. I was raped, went to the campus officials fully expecting help, didn’t get it. But on the positive note, and yes there is one, I am now in a unique position to help those many women AND men who become victims of sexual violence.

But I digress. Back to the last few days.

To top things off, yesterday would have been Dad’s 59th birthday. We had been planning this huge party for him–we were telling people that he had had such a rough summer, we wanted to make sure his birthday celebration would be EPIC. Instead we went to his grave site at the cemetery, released some balloons for him, and watched them disappear into the clouds.

Happy Birthday Balloons for Dad

In the future, I fully plan to spend August 29th differently. It is still a day to be celebrated. It is the day Stevie Smith came to be, and had August 29th 1956 not occurred, there would have been no marriage to Brenda Weatherspoon and no Stephanie Smith. It is still way too raw now to look upon the harsh reality of having an August 29th go by without him being here, but in the future, we will make August 29th a day of celebration, remembrance, and praises to God.

Speaking of God…

Last I checked, we were at chapter six in Numbers. Here God talks about the Nazirites. Nazirites were not a separate tribe or even a clan or family within one of the twelve tribes; they were individuals who voluntarily gave themselves over for a life of servitude to God. Men or women could take this vow. There were, of course, requirements of these people: They had to abstain from wine and other fermented drinks; vinegar made from wine or other fermented drinks; and grape juice, grapes and raisins. Interestingly, God says that “As long as they remain under their Nazirite vow, they must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, not even the seeds or skins” (v. 4). Doesn’t that first part of the verse seem to indicate that Nazirites didn’t have to remain Nazirites?? We shall see. And although it made sense that anyone who has dedicated himself or herself to God should stay away from alcohol, I wondered what was the harm in grapes or raisins. The only conclusion I could think of is the fact that grapes are used to make alcoholic beverages. (Shrugs–I need to do more research here. I know it is not that big a deal, but I STAY curious).

Here is another sentence that indicates that the Nazirite vow was for a specific period of time: In verse 5 the Lord says “During the entire period of their Nazirite vow, no razor may be used on their head. They must be holy until the period of their dedication to the Lord is over, they must let their hair grow long”. Yours truly also wondered why it was important that the Nazirites kept their hair long. Is it so people could identify them? Was it simply a sign of the times, where long hair and beards were looked upon favorably? Or is it because the cutting of hair and shaving of a beard often indicated mourning, and those fully dedicated to the Lord are to be joyous? I will definitely add this to my ever-growing list of things to research. Just out of curiosity more than anything.

Also indicative of the Nazirite vow having a beginning and an end: “Throughout the period of their dedication to the Lord, the Nazirite must not go near a dead body” (v. 6). Even if the deceased was a parent, the Nazirite had to remain set apart and prepared for service to the Lord at all times. They would be unable to be purely dedicated to the Lord if they were unclean. And God does not make exceptions. He has already established his Law: Contact with a dead body made someone ceremonially unclean. He cannot and does not go back on his word. Even though the Nazirite had made a vow to God did not make them exempt from following all of his laws.

In verse 9 we see that there is only one occasion when it is acceptable for a Nazirite to shave their head: If someone were to die suddenly in their presence. God says of their hair that it “symbolizes their dedication” and says that in this situation, the Nazirite is to shave his or her head on the seventh day to cleanse himself or herself, and on the eighth day sacrifices are in order. This is a prime example of unintentional sin. It shows that technically, a Nazirite in this situation did not violate the regulation… maybe someone keeled over in front of them, having showed no signs of illness or distress, and the Nazirite is stuck in this situation. But notice that God still calls it a sin in verse 11.

Here is definitive, final proof that the Nazirite vow could be temporary: “Now this is the law of the Nazirite when the period of their dedication is over” (v. 13). They have to present offerings to the Lord. After the offerings have been presented, the Nazirite then shaves his or her hair off, the symbol of their dedication. Once they have offed the hair, they put it in the fire that is under the fellowship offering.That their hair is referred to as “symbolizing their dedication” (v. 19) leads me toΒ  believe that the long, uncut hair serves more as a marker or identifier than any of the other explanations, but I am still going to look it up.

Later on in the Bible we encounter several notable Nazirites. I’ll mention Samson, because his story is one of my favorites. My son likes when I refer to him as Samson because of his long hair. Now, although Nazirite vows in the Scriptures above appeared to have start and end dates, parents could dedicate their children to the Lord in this manner and make them a Nazirite for life, as what happened with Samson. What I am not sure about is whether or not the child who has been dedicated to service as a youngin was able to change his mind when he or she got older. Not saying it’s a good idea, but just wondering.

Anyway, after the hair has been cut and roasted, and the offerings have been given, the Nazirite is allowed to drink wine.

So within Israel, we have the Levites, the tribe that God selected to be the priestly tribe, and the Nazirites, men and women from various tribes who willingly gave themselves over to the Lord. Not saying that the Levites shouldn’t have had a whole-hearted commitment to service, but I often wonder, particularly because I know of what happens in the later books of the Bible, particularly those of the major and minor prophets, that the priests got to where they felt as though their work was tedious and burdensome. I just wonder if people had been given the opportunity to volunteer for priestly service, would it have turned out better?

I doubt it.

We know that our God is a God of order. We know that the Israelites were a stiff-necked people who had not yet learned to shed the attitudes they had picked up as slaves in Egypt. Can you imagine Moses trying to pick out volunteers for priestly service from that many people??? Would there have been some who would have accepted just for the possibility of having their basic needs provided by the offerings provided by the people? Would some people have been like people today, interested only in the status?

People today get so wrapped up in titles. Bishop so-and-so. “Apostle” so-and-so. “Prophet” such-and-such. “Prophetess” yada-yada. (Notice that some are in quotations–that is because there are no more apostles, no more prophets, and no more prophetesses. When you see quotations, picture me doing this):

What is truly disheartening is while people are so quick to give themselves a title, they fail to research exactly what that title meant in Biblical contexts. I get annoyed when I hear someone refer to themselves as a prophet when what they are really doing is acting like a psychic, or when someone calls himself or herself an “apostle” to try to make it seem that their connection to God is deeper than someone else’s. It kills me that usually people bestow the titles upon themselves. Just like a nickname, I’ve never given myself a title. For what? For whose glory? Not my own, never my own!

The devil is certainly busy. He is using a lot of “Christian” people to fuel the apostasy. SMH. A lot of people are falling for the okey-doke.

Back to numbers.

At the end of chapter six is a great blessing. I like it so much I have to post it in its entirety:

“The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace” (vv. 24-26). Can you imagine if you are having a bad day and someone comes up to you and says that? Wouldn’t your mood automatically be lifted? That short bit of Scripture covers a multitude: A petition is given for the Lord’s blessing and protection; and that his face shine on you in a manner that shows he is happy with you; his grace is given to you–he is merciful, supplies your every need, and does this just because he is a good God, not because of anything you have done; his face turns toward you-not away, as he would do if you do something sinful; and peace! In my humble opinion, that is a good way to approach a brother or sister who needs an encouraging word. In this context, the Lord instructs Moses to tell Aaron and his sons that this is how they are to bless the Israelites.

Now we have arrived at chapter seven. Moses finishes setting up the tabernacle, anoints and consecrates it, along with all its furnishings, as well as the altar and all its utensils. He then counts the leaders of Israel, and each of them make offerings. They brought to the Lord “six covered carts and twelve oxen–an ox from each leader and a cart from every two” (v. 3). These gifts are to be used in the work at the tent of meeting and are to be given to the Levites for their work. Moses does this, diligently dividing the offerings up among two Levite clans–the Gershonites and Merarites. Nothing was given to the Kohathites because their job was to carry the holy things on their shoulders. They did not need to carts or oxen.

What follows is a listing of the offerings brought forth by the representative from each tribe. I’ll let you read that. They all gave the exact same thing, and I’ll admit when I first read Numbers, I was flustered, wondering, why couldn’t this have been condensed? Here is what all twelve tribal leaders presented as their offerings:

One silver plate weighing 130 shekels and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing 70 shekels, filled with the finest flour mixed with olive oil–these comprised the grain offering;

One gold dish weighing 10 shekels, filled with incense;

One young bull, one ram, and one male lamb a year old for a burnt offering;

and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old for a fellowship offering.

Interesting that the most was taken up for the fellowship offering. Recall that the fellowship offerings allowed for community meals of sorts, where the person who has made the offering eats it with the priest and the people. After I got over how redundant this was (sorry, God) I realized the reason for its redundancy. We can see that right now, the people are being obedient and there is uniformity throughout the nation. As I have read in later books in the Bible, Israel eventually came to be a nation that was lazy and stingy with their offerings, giving God the diseased, lame or sickly animals instead of the best ones.

(Side note: For anyone who is lacking a Bible or is like me and likes to study using multiple translations, a hard-cover Bible and an Internet Bible, I go to Online Bible–Multiple Translations to read online).

My eyes have grown heavy. I assume that with school starting back up soon I will be able to get to this earlier in the day and get more accomplished πŸ™‚ I’m going to have to find more time during the day to get to this. I am always satisfied when I am studying the Word. It is the best way to start and end any day πŸ™‚

Although I am tired, I have been having a hard time going to sleep, thinking about my Dad. I’m going to give it a shot though.

For those of you who still have your Dad, go see him tomorrow. And if you do, give him a hug for me. If you can’t see him, call him. If you have differences, hash them out. I am so glad my Dad knew how much I loved him, and from what I am hearing from other people, he talked about me with pride all of the time. Although my heart is still broken, I can find some solace in knowing that when he laid his head down for the last time here on earth, he knew that his baby girl thought the world of him, has always respected him, and would have done anything for him.

me and dad

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