Tov Me’od

By Elaine Knudtson

20170916_170107We are forever chasing rainbows, unable to enjoy the rest stops along the way.  Or, we give up searching and settle for the safety of predictability and routines.

The “to do lists” of our lives focus on key events, major purchases, and vocational aspirations.  Convinced that in attaining our goals, we can be released from emptiness and longing or attain contentment and joy, we throw ourselves into a continuous preoccupation with the “next” big thing on our road to happiness.   C. S. Lewis described it as “shadowlands”.

“We live in the Shadowlands.  The sun is always shining somewhere else.  Round a bend in the road.  Over the bough of a hill. . .”  C. S. Lewis (movie quote from “Shadowlands” 1993)

butteWe went on our first fall road trip.  With no commitments, we were able to pack the car and follow the weather to warmer adventures along the west coast.  Living the dream: the pot of gold at the end of the retirement rainbow–travel.  Why was I not deliriously happy?  Surely this trip should have been the best ever because I was free.

As we were driving towards home through Butte, Montana, we noticed how the tops of the hills were sprinkled with snow.  It was overcast and we watched the car thermometer dip with every mile as we headed north.  Knowing our adventure was coming to an end, we were unsettled, tired and anxious.  Then my husband read these words:

“What is present to me is what has a hold on my becoming.  I reflect on the presence of God always there in love, amidst the many things that have a hold on me.  I pause and pray that I may let God affect my becoming in this precise moment. . . Lord teach me to slow down, to be still and enjoy the pleasures created for me.  To be aware of the beauty that surrounds me:  the marvel of mountains, the calmness of lakes, the fragility of a flower petal.  I need to remember that all things come from you.” (26th week of ordinary time—Sacred Spaces by Irish Jesuits).

True rest wasn’t found on our road trip; it came when we stopped and pondered all that God had made.

The creation narrative ends each section with the words, “And God saw that it was good (me’od)”, but on the final day, when the work is complete, there is the addition of the word “tov”—VERY.  “God saw all that He made and it was VERY good (tov me’od)”  Perfection.  Nothing more to add.  God rested.

In Hebrews we are reminded of the significance of that moment:

“Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said. . .Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. . .There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God. . . for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work.  Just as God did from His.  Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest.” Heb. 4:ff

Our redemption is given to us by the final “It is finished” on the cross.  The work of striving to be reconciled to God is complete.  Perfection.  Nothing more to add.  We can rest.  At that moment we are able to say, “And I saw all that God had done, and it was “tov me’od”. . .

“Tov Me’od”

The swirling disruptive artistry of creation complete, God rested.

 It is finished. 

And He saw that it was very good – Tov me’od.

The moment between creation and rest.

He waits for me there.

It is the moment of surrender.

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Paul was a preacher and teacher until he retired in 2015. He continues to write and listen to what God is saying to him in the ordinary and extraordinary things of life. Elaine was a public school teacher and administrator until she retired in 2018. She is using her retirement to reflect on God's work in her life and to share insights with her family and friends.

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