Tuesday, March 19th
Linger: to be slow in parting or in quitting something; tarry
Exodus 33:7-11 (NRSV)
Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp; he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise and stand, each of them, at the entrance of their tents and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise and bow down, all of them, at the entrance of their tent. Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then he would return to the camp; but his young assistant, Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the tent.
Are you like us, the moviegoers who stay in the theater all the way through the ending credits? Then you, too, have discovered the bonuses in doing so- at times there are funny outtakes, great music, or special dedications. As others are exiting the theater to go on with the day, we linger behind to see if there will be any delightful surprises or extras in store for us. The others do not know what they might be missing!
In this passage from Exodus, Moses goes to the tent of meeting to hear God speak to him. Moses would hear God’s word, then return to the camp to share the message with the people. But in a little phrase at the end of this passage, we learn that Joshua, Moses’ assistant, would remain in the tent.
Perhaps Joshua stayed to keep watch over the sacred tent. Perhaps he was offering a continuous prayer vigil for Moses and the Israelites. I like to think that he wanted to simply linger in the afterglow of Moses’ encounter with the presence of God. Like us movie theater lingerers, Joshua may have wanted to remain in the tent just in case there would be some bonus surprises or “extras” too.
I recently learned that there is an incubation period in our brains after we learn something new. In that incubation, we often recombine what we have just learned to form yet another new and creative idea. My morning walks are times when I ponder a certain thought and often additional ideas evolve from that. The incubation period is like watching the movie’s ending credits. We already have the initial message or point of the movie, but we receive additional insights, laughs, or beautiful extras if we linger with it.
When we linger with a Word or message we have received during worship, or a possible answer to prayer, or a song that has resonated with us, we give the Spirit more time to work. The Spirit can rearrange our initial thoughts and create new meaning from them. Lingering opens us up for additional insights and creative surprises on top of the original revelation. We move from what first caught our attention into something deeper and maybe even surprising at times.
The next time we notice a Word or inspiration that touches our hearts, may we linger a while- and not be so ready to exit and go on with life. We never know what we might be missing!
All definitions are excerpted from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary at https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/
Photo credit: Aaron Burden on Unsplash