The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. . .” But Moses implored the Lord his God . . . And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people. – Exodus 32:9-14 excerpts (NRSV)
As a workshop facilitator, one of the guidelines I love including in group covenants is, “Don’t freeze each other in time.” Which means, if you run into a classmate on the street a year from now, don’t assume they are exactly the same they were the year before. That awkward comment they made in class? Give them an opportunity to show they kept learning. The way they always interrupted conversation? Look for cues that they are better listeners today.
We may be surprised, or we may not, but we commit to letting each other change and grow in the hope that the same grace will be extended to us. When I look back on the versions of myself that have existed at various points in my life, I cringe at my own behavior and the opinions people might still have about me.
Even God needed to be nudged by Moses to give the Israelites the opportunity to change their stubborn ways. Moses reminds God that they are capable of transforming into the people God longs to be in relationship with. If God wipes them out, that opportunity for growth and transformation is lost forever. If God can give time for the Israelites (or even an immature, judgmental student like me) to change, perhaps I can do the same for other people.
Thaw my frozen heart towards family, friends, neighbors, classmates, and even myself. Amen.
Liz Miller serves as the pastor of Edgewood United Church (UCC) in East Lansing, Michigan.