A lot of sentences in scripture start with “and” and “for.” I assume it is a feature of the oral tradition that made it to the written versions. The “and”s make sense to me: an addition to what came before. But the “for”s sometimes mess me up. They seem to work, at times, like a “because.” Such and such, because you shall go out in joy. At other times, they work more like a “therefore.” Blah blah blah, therefore you shall be led back in peace. I wonder, though, if they also work like a “when.” I do not believe that God waits for me to get it right. Sweet mercy, that’d be a long, long wait! But, I do believe that the blessings of God open up to me when I follow Jesus more closely. Because/therefore/when I am next in a difficult conversation I will leave it in joy, glad for the exchange, and I will return to my neighbor with only peace and appreciation in my heart.
God, instead of the thorn might you let come up a cypress? Instead of the brier how about sweet myrtle? And my life will be a monument to this covenant we share. Amen.