Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Soup and Salad

When I started a Bible reading plan this year, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I knew from the outset what I would read on what days and that it wasn't going to cover the entire Bible cover to cover. But what I didn't anticipate was how rich going through Psalms and Proverbs would prove to be.

Throughout my Bible reading journey so far, I wouldn't say that I have avoided these two books, I just have not invested any time in them intentionally. I've always been more in tune with what I would consider the meat and potatoes of Scripture, and I suppose, right or wrong, I've looked at these two books more as the soup and salad.  I will say this, Psalms has definitely gotten me more in touch with my significantly repressed emotions and proverbs has opened my eyes to just how blonde I am.

Today's agenda included Psalm 106 which has the most unbelievable retelling of the Exodus. But more than that, it has some very human behavioral tendencies that made me want to faceplant in the living room and beg God to never let me be like the people He lead out of captivity. Unfortunately, I tend to take after the Israelites more than Paul, post-conversion.

Verses 7-12 recount how the Israelites gave no thought to the miracles they witnessed, that they did not remember the Lord's kindness, that they rebelled by the Red Sea, and that it wasn't until God had them cross on dry land and cover their adversaries with water that they believed His promises and sang His praises. 

I never want my belief or praises to be contingent on God's intervention. I want to sing of His goodness and faithfulness regardless of my circumstances. But the reality is I don't. I may not be doubting Him or questioning His motives when things are not all sunshine and roses, but I am also not lifting His name as I should be in the middle of a less than preferred situation. And to boot, just like them, I all too soon forget what He's done and find something else that I am not thrilled about.

To make matters worse, as we know they fashioned a calf from metal and exchanged their glorious God for an image of a bull, which eats grass (19-20) and forgot the God who saved them. (21)

Okay, not many of us are thinking about making an idol of an animal. But I know from personal experience that I have way more idols than I realized. I can look at God and see how He has revealed things to me about how best to care for my health and then turn around and put my faith in a nutrition plan, a watch that counts my steps and records burned calories, and a fitness expert that tells me how many of what types of exercises to do. And then I get frustrated when results don't come as quickly as I think they should because I did all the right things. This is a problem. And don't even get me started on how I've idolized my planner on keeping me organized instead of the strength of God working in my weaknesses.

Galatians 5:1 says, It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Why did the Israelites do that, and why do we? We chain ourselves to things that don't matter, we sacrifice what is most important for it, and we deny the work Christ did on the cross. And all to end up in worse shape than we started! It kills me when I think of the roller coaster rides I have been on for years, the ones that I did manage step off but ended up with a ticket again and have been riding ever since.

But God......

Just like He did with the people who rebelled in the most horrific of ways, taking note of their distress upon hearing their cry, remembering His covenant, and relenting out of love (44,45), He does with us. Why? Because He is above all else slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness, even when we are faithless.

The one thing that this entire Psalm seemed to echo is this: God is not an ego-maniac that speaks just to hear Himself talk. Everything He says, declares, decrees, or commands is to keep us settled in the good and fruitful land of our inheritance. And our joy and delight will come when our passion aligns with His mission to serve and love others as He has loved us. The question is: are we willing to die to ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him.

Lord, this was not an easy thing to read because of the degree to which I see myself in the behavior of a rebellious people scares me to death. Help us all to sing Your praises regardless of our circumstances, don't let our belief be contingent on Your actions, never let us forget the things You have done, help us to stand in the gap for others to see You, remind us that Your directions always serve a purpose, and keep our minds focused on the truth that You have set us free and that we are never to bound ourselves again in a yoke of slavery. We love You and want to serve You alone. Amen.

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