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Last summer, we hired a man with a power washer to clean our deck. As he blasted the dirt that had defied our feeble garden hose, I found myself wishing all the muck in my life could be dealt with so efficiently. Sticky kitchen floor? Messy relationships? Unleash the water pressure!

But not so fast. Two weeks earlier, a neighbor's teenager, Matt, was cleaning the driveway with a rented power washer when he felt an ant crawling on his calf. Instinctively, he turned the nozzle toward his leg, obliterating the insect—and, unfortunately, some layers of muscle and tissue. Matt's injury is not uncommon; an online search produces innumerable accounts of gruesome wounds and even fatalities related to the use of pressure washers.

So I decided to give my handyman and his potentially flesh-stripping machine a wide berth. I had to do some reading for a biblical studies course, so I sat by my kitchen window and kept one eye on my yard and the other on the Pentateuch.

I was making my way through Exodus, feeling a little jealous of my spiritual ancestors. It seemed they never had to wonder if God was there. They had only to follow pillars of cloud and fire, gathering up the manna served fresh daily from God's kitchen. At Sinai, Yahweh made his presence even harder to miss, clearing his throat with thunder, lightning, trumpet blasts, trembling mountains, and billowing smoke.

I wondered why the present-day actions of the immutable God sometimes seem so muted in contrast to the God of Moses. I wouldn't mind a pillar of cloud or fire when I need direction, or some manna on my front lawn when I pray for provision.

But 10 chapters into Leviticus, I sobered up to the dangerous side of God's proximity to the Israelites. They had just set up the ...

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hide thisOctober October

In the Magazine

October 2011

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