So my dedicated reading through my Bible continues, and I haven’t deviated from the plan yet. Practicing surrender is something I have to constantly work at. For me, even sticking with a simple plan that leads me through the Old Testament before reaching the part I identify with most closely is a part of my practice. It’s not perfect, but it’s progress.
So yes, my perspective is very much framed by the books in the New Testament. To which collectively I’m sure there just went up a yuuuuuge sigh of acknowledgement. What I find really amazing as I continue to read through the books of the Old Testament (heretofore OT) is how many times we stray from God. It’s like we were programed to find God only to lose Him and find Him again.
From creation on, the whole story of us, throughout all the books of the Bible reflects not just a longing of God for us, but a story of us wanting Him but still straying. How early do we see this? Early. Like Genesis 2 early.
I’m only into Judges, but the number of times we (the Israelites) have been shown God’s favor-forgiveness-grace only to kick Him to the curb is almost laughable. I’ll start reading and it plays out a bit like this, *Having forgotten about their covenant with God…* Insert anywhere, followed by a smoting, the selection of a hero and yaddi-yaddi-yadda we’re restored to abundance and our numbers grew so that we were more numerous than the grains of sand at the beach and we promised to honor and worship God without fail, this time it would be different! Sounds a little like my early efforts at recovery actually…
The challenge to them, and to myself is to not elevate anyone or anything to the place where God should be. When things are bad it’s so easy to pray so steadfast that my knees develop calluses. But when things are good, do I forget? I’ve done it before putting any number of things ahead of God, and I guess if more than 2,000 years of history is a guide I’ll probably do it again. We all will. Yet we’re free from judgement, isolation and abandonment. That’s why remaining in community is so vital for me so when I do lose my focus I can be called out for it. I can be reminded that a lack of connection with God doesn’t just create distance spiritually, but also creates distance interpersonally and sends me out into the wilderness (or the desert) to wander.
I think those times are important for me to grow personally, to face difficulty and persevere. Difficult times will come. It’s virtually assured they will. As many before have said, but I prefer Kurt Vonnegut’s version, the excrement will most assuredly hit the air-conditioning. What matters is our response in those times. Our identity drives our motivation, and if my eyes are squarely fixed on Him my identity reflects that in every area.
Some of us, like myself, are directly responsible for the excrement. Others of you have had coals heaped on your heads. Throughout the world there are untold tragedies that happen to innocent people, even the most devout followers. Understanding why, or discerning God’s will for us likely won’t take place in this lifetime. However, just because we don’t understand the *why*, or *how could this happen*, or clearly see our purpose doesn’t mean that we’re not living the lives He’s designed for us. If I’m to be faithful to Him, it means remaining faithful in times of plenty as much as want. It doesn’t mean I can’t question Him, wonder why or ask the questions that are on my heart. God wants a relationship with me, with all of us and that means engaging in an honest dialogue, not shying from it. Like an earthly father, our Father in Heaven can handle our anger, frustration, resentment as openly as our joy and thanksgiving. Lean in.
Grace and peace