I wonder if you know what a ‘farsh‘ is? Don’t worry if not. I’m not suggesting your life depends upon it! It’s an inland lake cut into the side of a mountain by the carving power of past glaciers. Such oases are often beautiful and act as a source of literal as well as spiritual refreshment for thirsty, weary mountaineers in their journey to the summit or journey back home.
There is such a farsh halfway up (or halfway down if you prefer) Mount Sinai. It is named ‘Farsh Elihu’ – Elijah’s Farsh. From here, and for the first time, one can actually see the summit of Mount Sinai or ‘Jebel Musa’ – the Mountain of God.
What’s interesting about this farsh is that however well one knows the five different pathways up Mount Sinai, Farsh Elihu always catches sojourners by surprise. It is a pleasant surprise, of course, an unexpected blessing from God’s Mountain on a tiring ascent or descent. It is an unplanned point of pivot where God’s blessing is encountered unexpectedly.
With a second Covid wave apparently coming over the hill like a monster, I suspect many people are feeling as weary and confused as the Grand Old Duke of York’s ten thousand men! At least when you’re up or down you know where you are and how you feel. But, after six months, are we really only halfway through this pandemic? Wasn’t the lockdown only supposed to last six weeks?! How, exactly is one supposed to react when one is ‘neither up nor down’? What’s the emoji for that?
But it is precisely at this pivot point that the people of God need to remember that this mountain contains unexpected blessings from God, perhaps right in front of our eyes. It is not that Covid is a blessing from God – it most certainly is not. But the Bible teaches that in every situation God is at work according to His good purpose – and that includes blessing His weary saints who, like Moses ascended Sinai to encounter God’s presence and receive His Laws, but who also, like Moses and like Elijah and like us, get weak and tired on occasion.
This will be my final Weekly Thought. One cannot appreciate or even recognise pivot points or new phases if one is perpetually repeating the things of the past. As we begin to gather corporately again on Sunday, albeit cautiously and carefully, we are in a new phase of our journey as a church. We have not reached the top of God’s Holy Mountain as I assumed we would have done by now. However, the summit of Jebel Musa is in sight. In the meantime, let’s actively look around for signs of God’s blessing. They are there, even if that thought is an unexpected one. God’s presence can be found in the most unexpected of places. This is our Hope and yes, our lives and the lives of those around us do indeed depend upon it.