“New life keeps the energy flowing, like the breath of the world.”
After watching Avatar at a nearby AMC theater, I sauntered back to my hotel room and breathed in the warm, intoxicating San Diego air. I took my time. I stopped by a fountain in the outdoor Fashion Valley Mall to mediate. I moseyed around one of the hotel swimming pools to reflect on the movie. I sat on a bench and prayed for renewal and perspective. The last few months of my life, prior to that evening, had been life changing, tumultuous, and invigorating.
The image of the Omaticaya clan gathered in a prayer circle around the Mother Tree, plugged-in, and chanting ran through my mind—Jake and his avatar lying head to head, covered in root-cilia, while his human body died and his Na’vi body awoke to new life. Why was this image so powerful? Why was it affecting me to the degree that it was?
Divorced for only four months, I knew that God desired the best life for me. Yet, up to that point, I questioned that new life. I worried about what that new life would look like—how it may feel. Up to that evening, I was still wallowing in my old life…still fearing all the new adventures God had in store for me. Until that evening, I wasn’t ready to wake up to the full, blossoming life God desired for me. As I prayed on that bench outside my hotel room, peering into the crystal blue waters of a swimming pool, I woke up!
The best was yet to come.
In Numbers 17, God is fed up with the Israelites. What else is new? The Israelites were constantly griping, reminiscing, and dwelling in the past. They were unable to embrace the new life God had in store for them. They surely weren’t ready to accept the leaders God chose for them or the Promised Land God had prepared for them. They were afraid of the new, glorious life God desired for them. They needed to wake up!
In order to convince them that Aaron, and Aaron’s descendants, were to serve as their priests, God had the head of each ancestral tribe place a staff in the tent of meeting. The staff of the man who God chose to lead Israel would sprout. The next day, Aaron’s staff had not only sprouted, but had budded, blossomed, and produced almonds.
The Hebrews referred to the almond as the “waker” because it blossoms earlier than any other tree. This nugget of information made me consider one of my favorite Widespread Panic songs…conveniently called “The Waker.”
I love the lyrics of this song because it reminds me to WAKE UP! Whenever I listen to “The Waker”, I try to approach each day as if it’s my last, to live life like a 21 year-old (as long as my 40-year-old body doesn’t get in the way), to embrace freedom because not everyone is free, to stop running around like an idiot in search of material wealth and possessions, and to love deeply. These qualities are exactly what God desires for us. Do you want to know the Lord’s will for your life? Believe it or not, Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians:
“‘Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
I love those verses. “Wake up, sleeper!”
This whole visual of Aaron’s staff budding, comes to full fruition in Christ. Doesn’t everything? By having almonds grow directly from Aaron’s staff, God established the priesthood through the order of Aaron from that day until the coming of Christ. Almonds were considered the wakers…the firstfruits. Jesus Christ is also the firstfruits (1 Corinthians 15). The author of Hebrews, in his wordiest way possible, makes the connection for us:
“If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also. He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.”
No one ever accused the author of Hebrews of being a man of few words. In a nutshell, Aaron and the Levitical priesthood served a purpose: making temporary atonement for our sins. However, Jesus Christ offers us something far better: love, hope, new life, and a blossoming relationship with the Living God.
Through Jesus, we can all “WAKE UP!”