We are entering the Jewish month of Nissan. In this month we left Egypt at the last minute. We ran with our bags slung over our shoulders and our bread not yet risen. After all the miracles and the plagues that God had performed for us, why did we have to leave in such a rush in the end? Couldn’t God have set everything up so that we could take our time packing and organizing our departure?
In the gap between the familiar and the unknown change must happen at lightning speed.
It is precisely in the gap between the familiar and the unknown where change must happen at lightning speed. It is hard to leave behind what we know. It is hard to let go of the comforting contours of our routines. And this is what the month of Nissan asks of us – to begin again. To cross the sea into a desert not defined by time or space. To redefine ourselves and our lives in a place that we can only reach by becoming aware of the power of a minute.
Because when we are passionate about a goal, when we want to move beyond where we are today, the routines of our lives become distilled into a small window of opportunity. That’s why we can’t sleep, can’t eat, can’t even breathe when we are filled with the singular determination to succeed.
Eric Thomas, a motivational speaker, tells this story:
There was a young man who wanted to make a lot of money. He went to this guru and told him, “I want to be as successful as you.” The guru said, “If you want to be as successful as me, I’ll meet you tomorrow at the beach at 4am.”
The young man got there at 4am wearing his best suit. He should have worn shorts. The old man grabbed his hand and said: “How bad do you want to be successful?”
The guru told him, “Walk on out into the water.”
The young man went waist deep in water, thinking, This guy is crazy. I want to make money and he has me out here swimming. I didn’t ask to be a lifeguard.
“Come out a little further,” the guru said.
So he walked out a little further until the water at his shoulders. “Come out a little more.” It was right at his mouth. The young man moved back, telling himself, I’m not going further than this.
And the old man said, “I thought you said you wanted to be successful? Walk a little further.” Then he pushed the young man’s head under the water and held him down. He raised him up and said, “I got a question for you. How badly do you want to succeed? Because when you want to succeed as much as you want to breathe, then you will be successful.”
That’s how badly the Jews wanted to leave Egypt. They wanted it more than they wanted to eat, more than they wanted to sleep, more than they wanted even to breathe. When they reached the Sea of Reeds, they were stuck between their enemies behind them and the water in front of them. But perhaps more than they themselves wanted to go from slavery to freedom, God wanted to set them free.
Coupled with their deep desire to go beyond the limits of the past is the guarantee that God will help us if we jump in. If we go a little further into the water. If we allow the change to submerge us, fill our mouths, our homes, our hearts. But if we delay and take our time, we may miss the opportunity. Sometimes we need to show up at the beach at 4am, ready to jump in. Sometimes it’s in that split second when we confront the illusions that take up too much space and time, we are faced with a choice: Will we have the courage to leave the chametz, the heaviness, the extraneous behind? To walk into the sea. To cross the desert. To hear the Source of our lives calling to us: Come out a little further. If you want what I have to give you, you need to walk a little further into the water.
Three Ways to Prepare for Passover
The spiritual power of the month of Nissan is available to us as well. Just like God took the Jewish people out of Egypt, He pulls each of us out of the narrow confusion that can overshadow our lives. Here are three ways that we can connect to the energy of this month and begin to prepare for Passover:
Learn the Haggadah. The Haggadah that we read on Seder night is packed with deep ideas and details of our shared history. Don’t wait until Passover arrives to read it; we can get so much more out of the holiday of Passover by studying it beforehand. Delve into the miraculous story of your people, a story that has been told from generation to generation for over 3,000 years. We need to learn our story to understand the true power of our potential.
Connect the Generations. One of the most precious parts of Passover is not just speaking about our history but honoring the process of giving over wisdom from one generation to the next. Speak to older family members about their own stories and experiences. Have them share their lives with your own children. You will be amazed how much you didn’t know about your own family story. Part of what has always made us strong and enduring as a nation is this unique bond between generations. Become a link in this chain. From your children to your children’s children; we each have something to contribute.
Simplify. Get rid of the extraneous stuff in your life that is weighing you down. The traditional process of clearing our houses of chametz enables us to begin to let go of emotional baggage as well. Throw out not just things that are blocking you spiritually but also activities and routines that are wasting your time and energy.
In this month, in this minute, we can begin again. We just need to want to succeed more than we want anything else and to know that God wants it for us even more than that. How badly do we want to be free? Because at some point, we need to be willing to let the water go above our heads. To run towards Him in the desert carrying nothing but our hearts. To want His love even half as much as He wants ours.
Because this is the month when every minute, every step further, counts.