Here is a picture of our sukkah from the outside. Isn’t it picturesque? Wouldn’t you love to spend a week there? Can you picture cups of cocoa, a flickering campfire, Scripture studies, songs, and fellowship?
But as you walk down the hill and get a little closer, you will hear a baby crying, sore cranky grownups, rain dripping through the roof, wind howling through the cracks. Where is our picturesque little scene? Much of it is still there. But real life now shares the picture. In real life the cot is too small for momma and two little boys. In real life, it rains almost every day of Sukkot. We struggle and don’t always feel like rejoicing.
Why do I point this out? Because we often make a mistake. We look at the glamorous photos and glowing reports and assume that we are the only family that isn’t always spiritual. We are the only ones that get cranky.
But if we look at Torah, our lifeblood of truth, the snapshot looks a bit different.
We see Abraham in front of his tent, the lighting is just right, the smiles hint at a happy family. But on closer inspection, we discover that Abraham lied to the Pharaoh in Egypt, his sons have serious sibling disputes, he throws his second wife out in the wilderness at the suggestion of his first wife. Yet, there is hope. Abraham is called the friend of God. He is the father of the Israelites. Is there hope for us?
Oh, now I see a snapshot of Moses, tall, regal, standing on a mountain. He looks so powerful as he looks down on the children of Israel. But zoom in. Moses killed a man! Moses didn’t enter the Promised Land because he had a problem with his temper. But Deuteronomy tells us that there was never a man like unto Moses. Is there hope for me?
As I look at this picture of my sukkah, I ponder the ups and downs. I think of the happy, cozy games we played in the evening, and the long nights with a hungry baby that followed. I think of the laughing and the grumbling, the pleasant chats and the cranky encounters. I wonder what other people would think if they came inside. I am a mixed bag. I have good days and bad days. My sukkah looks good from across the field, but I don’t always feel confident enough to let people inside.
Yet there is ONE who came into my sukkah. He saw everything. He heard everything. He felt everything. And He chose to stay. He thought our sukkah was beautiful, not because it was perfect or always cheerful, but because we were there. We wanted to meet with Him and He did not fail to appear.
I am so grateful that my Elohim comes to my imperfect sukkah, my imperfect life, and meets with me. Where others would have occasion to find fault, He sees opportunity. And when I know that He is pleased with me, I have the confidence to carry on, to keep trying, to reach out to others.