Have you always worked for a guaranteed, monthly or hourly salary or have you worked freelance or project-to-project or owned your own business? If you’ve done both at various times, you know how different the experiences are. Working for a salary makes life much more manageable, predictable and smoother than always wondering where the next job or customer is coming from, storing reserves when business is good to cover when it’s not. But the predictability of a salary is also a cap, a limitation on how far or how fast you can progress, and for all the unpredictability, freelancers experience a different rhythm of vulnerability and gratitude that keeps them closer to earth and edge.
When the Hebrews were freed from the slavery of Egypt, they were also taken from a land that had a massive river system that annually flooded the plains with rich silt that fertilized soil and could be harnessed and directed for irrigation, creating a salary of sorts, a thriving agriculture. The Hebrews became desert nomads, living a freelance life, gathering food as they could from day to day, and even when they occupied their new land, it had no natural source of water that could support agriculture. They only had the rains. And though the rains of Israel are cyclic: early and late rains falling in Autumn and Spring, they couldn’t be controlled. They fell from the sky of their own volition, and could only be experienced, never managed.
This is exactly the model God intended for his people—cycles of vulnerability and gratitude amid the uncertainties of life. As we approach Pentecost, the celebration of spiritual liberation from our limiting fears, does that mean that life is suddenly experienced with a new certainty and predictability that salaried life implies?
When we read the scriptures carefully, we realize for all their newfound boldness, Jesus’ first followers had no more clarity or certainty than they had before. But what they had gained was trust. Trust that amid the uncertainty of life, the rains would still fall at their appointed time, and if they did the hard work of preparing soil and seed, when the rains came, the cycle of vulnerability to gratitude would be complete. This is true spiritual liberation—trust in the midst what can’t be controlled.