When it comes to the Bible, I tend to think the New Testament is where all the best lessons are.
I know this isn’t really true, but I think it anyway. It’s new! Obviously better! Shinier!
The Daily Bible I’m working my way through this year is reminding me once again how little I really know and how relevant the Old Testament is to my life, right now, in 2017. Actually, I could probably spend the rest of my time on earth learning from the Israelites and their relationship with God and never feel like I’ve learned it all.
Currently, I’m reading about their time in the desert after God leading them out of Egypt. God literally escorts them out of their miserable lives of slavery, vanquishes their enemies, and provides food and water for them as they flee. He takes care of every need they have and then asks them to be in covenant with Him.
The Israelites agree because He’s done all these great things. He tells them if they want to be in covenant with Him, they have to agree to play by His rules. He’ll protect them,He’ll bless them, He’ll make them into a great nation, but He has some rules for them to follow.
Of course they say yes, because all the miraculous things He just did are fresh in their minds.
They get their rules (the Ten Commandments) and start trying to live lives according to their agreement.
But following rules are hard. They get settled into their wandering. They get used to being saved from their enemies. They become complacent with the food and water they’re provided with. They forget how much God has done for them and how much He is still doing for them. They forget how much He promises to do for them.
They start worshiping other gods. They think God has forgotten them because He’s on a mountain with Moses and so they take matters into their own hands, they take their eyes off God.
I’m paraphrasing their story greatly, but can you see yourself in every single step of this plot? Because I can. I mean, I see myself, not you. I’m not psychic. Or peeking in your windows anymore since the police gave me that stern warning.
I’m trying to read the Bible in a year and most mornings I come at my time expecting to be bored. I assume it is not relevant anymore.
Then God reminds me I’m just like the Israelites. He shows Himself to me time and time (and time and time) again, and I get so excited and make these grand promises and vows…and then a few days later, I forget His blessings and faithfulness and I decide I know better. I start worshiping something else. Something like time or money or my calendar or my to-do list or my phone or my relationships or my stuff or a million other idols I get distracted by.
Then Moses comes off the mountain, sees I’m off track AGAIN, and breaks his tablets out of anger.
Oh wait, maybe that’s the Israelites and not me.
We’re so identical, I get us confused sometimes.
But you get the point, right? We’re so similar and so dumb and it’s amazing God keeps being forgiving and merciful when really, WHAT IS THE PROBLEM? I could fill one thousand pages with the things God has done for me but on page 1001 I’d forget what I was talking about and who should get the credit. That seems so silly typed out, but it’s the truth.
It’s like when I’m paying bills and I see the tithe check sitting there, not yet dropped off at church. I could use that money for something else, I think. It would be really nice to use that for fill-in-the-blank. As I’m doing the internal struggle I’m forgetting the TEN PLUS YEARS He’s faithfully provided all we needed and more while we gave a measly tenth back to him.
Or it’s like when I let anxiety and worry consume me. I mean, absolutely consume me. To the point I can’t sleep. To the point I break out with patches of eczema on my face. To the point I’m positive my family and I are going to die this very week. As I’m making myself physically ill with worry, He’s working things out for my good, He’s calming storms I don’t even know exist, and he’s saying it is well. And I know, logically, that it is. But my heart keeps forgetting even though I am surrounded by reminders everywhere I turn.
The Israelites got too comfy in their covenant with God. They were taken such good care of they forgot what it was like to be slaves, to be hungry, and to suffer. So they turned to other things.
They annoy me.
But I’m old enough to know the things that annoy me the most in others are most likely just a little too real of a reflection of myself.
The more I want to be faithful, the more I mess up. The more I want to be devoted, the more distracted I become.
That Old Testament, man, it’s kicking my butt. I was once a slave, and I was so happy to finally be free. But I’ve been free for so long I kinda forget how bad the slave part was, and I can convince myself it wasn’t truly as bad as I remember.
Lord, help me to remember your provisions in my life. Help me to trust you even when it seems easier not to. Remind me I am not unique in my struggles, I often don’t see my chains because I don’t want to, and I don’t do well without you. I don’t want to keep re-learning this lesson. Thank you for your grace, your patience, and your mercy. Again and again and again. Amen.