Saturday, June 21, 2008

Possessing my Portion

Have you ever noticed that when you learn a new word it seems to pop up everywhere? I have found in my life that often when I hear a new Word it works this same. This week's Word was Psalm 73. Kurt spoke about this passage at Warehouse 242 this past Sunday. His focus was to impress upon us all the significance of the portion which God has given to us, and the loss we experience when we consider the portion of others with envy and ignorance. He gave two beautiful examples of portion (one positive and one humblingly relate-able negative example)and how our portion and our inheritance is certain and it is enough. (You can hear Kurt's message here.)
This past year has provided a lot of time to reflect on my portion. To recognize that my portion may not be 'large' by the standards of others, but it is enough. There are so many 'criteria' that I impose upon God about what portion I will accept - perhaps I can only accept my portion if it includes marriage or if it includes the right job, or if it includes recognition, etc. When all my regular comforts and identifiers were distanced from me (my eloquence, my independence, my friendships, my social position, my material possessions)I realized that although those 'portions' might mean something to me, or to my peers they meant nothing to God. The portion that concerns Him is that which He has given me. My comfort should come in my certainty that my portion (regardless of how it may appear) is enough!
Asaph's Psalm more perfectly expresses my year than anything I can write here. I was at the end of my spiritual rope. I felt I had tied a knot and was hanging on with my fingernails to the belief that God would provide for me. With self-loathing and bitterness I watched the wicked around me prosper while I felt left behind and forgotten by the Savior around whom my life had been shaped. Asaph felt the same thing as a Levite relying on the obedience of the tribes of Israel for his 'portion' or his provision; as an obedient follower, he felt he had followed fruitlessly and was bitter and frustrated with God. Asaph realized, however, that although he could not change the world around him he could rely on God to remain faithful and hold onto him whether he [Asaph] understood his circumstances or not.
"As for me, it is good to be near God." God has given me a portion far greater than any I could compare myself to in shallow envy. I can seek self-satisfaction and find myself always oppressed by my circumstances, or I can recognize that God has a portion for me that is enough that I will never lack.
Tuesday night I attended a city-wide singles worship service called Charlotte One and the passage shared was Psalm 139 which seemed the perfect next step to my ponderings about my 'portion'. My portion is mine because God knows me! He knows me intimately down to the words on my tongue! He has prepared my portion for me because His heart is good; because he is the only one who has the right to do so - because He is God and He is the only one who knows me fully, the only one who ever would have the ability to know me fully, even so much better than I know myself.
As I ponder this word 'portion' I have a conversation with a friend about Messianic Judaism and she mentions to me that when she was in Jerusalem over her 30th birthday, she learned what her Torah 'portion' was. Every year the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers & Deuteronomy) is read (in weekly readings) during services and the same reading falls on the same week every year (according to the Jewish not he Gregorian calendar). The portion read during your brithday is your Torah Portion. There is also a corresponding Haftarah (the scriptures from the prophets, etc.) Before I muddle this too greatly, let me point you to a few sites where you can find your Torah portion:
The one that my friend Kaite suggested to me is found here,but I also found a site that provided a little more information on Jewish Birthdays here and some additional information on how your birthday and portion is determined here.
My Torah portion is VaEtchanan, Deuteronomy : 3:23-7:11 and my Haftarah portion is Isaiah 40:1 - 40:26. I have not had time to really ponder the Torah portion - it is the section where God forbids Moses to cross the Jordan, gives Israel the Ten Commandments, restates the authority of God, sets aside cities of refuge and gives instruction for entering the land.( here is some info about the passage and the Jewish holidays, etc. surrounding it.) The Haftarah portion is the very famous passage in Isaiah about Comforting Israel & God's greatness. (Which, incidentally leads me to ponder a message I heard by N.T. Wright talking about that passage.)
There will be more postings about portions as I practice possessing my portion and considering it with thankfulness. (and possibly some electronic media artwork as ponderance and practice.)

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