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Posts Tagged ‘rest’

return

In Exodus 23:10-19 we find the instructions for rest and return pertaining to crops and giving back to God out of our abundance.  These laws were given to the Jews in wilderness as they waited for the promised land.  They had great significance and we are able to draw more than a few parallels today in our own experience regarding how we ought to rest and what we ought to give back to the Lord.

In verses 10-11 we find the principle of a Sabbatical year for growing.  For six years the people of God were to sow their fields, but in the seventh year they were to let the ground lay fallow.  They were not to plant, reap, or keep anything that the ground produced on its own for themselves.  They were to store up in the sixth year for two years and allow the poor and the animals eat from the field in the seventh year.

Here we have the fundamental teaching God gave from the very beginning of working six days and resting the seventh.  Verse 12 reminds us of God’s order created in Genesis 1.  The main idea that we ought to take away is that rest and refreshment is not only necessary, but commanded for all living things.  The reason for the rest is not just rest in and of itself, but the underlying idea is trust in God.  Taking one day every week and one year every seven away from our work to simply rest and trust in the provision of God is a constant reminder that our strength, our portion, our needs are never met by our actions alone.  God is the giver of all things including food, shelter, clothing, and even the ability to work to obtain those things in this life.

“Pay attention to all that I have said to you, and make no mention of the names of other gods, nor let it be heard on your lips.” ~Exodus 23:13

In verse 13 we have a command to “Pay attention.”  It is not every passage that we have the Lord stopping in the middle of his instructions and law-giving to refocus his hearers and make sure they are listening.  Therefore, what is being said here must be of utmost importance.

The imperative here is not just to pay attention, but to pay attention to God’s words.  Oh, if every believer today would heed this instruction!  Pay attention to God’s Word!  Hear him!  Listen!  And the idea to which he was pointing was not only to pay attention to His words, but to ignore and avoid all other gods.  The people of God were not even permitted to speak of the ways and wants of foreign gods.  So important was his instruction on idolatry, he has stopped in the middle of his giving of the law on resting and returning a portion out of their work and abundance to him to say so.  Consider that.  I will say it again so it sinks in for us all.

 So important was his instruction on idolatry, he has stopped in the middle of his giving of the law on resting and returning a portion out of their work and abundance to him to say so.

Why does God do this?  It is because other gods – idols – be they material, relational, or otherwise, are exactly what are going to cause these guys, you, and I to disobey God in these instructions on rest and return.  Instead of resting as God commands here (and elsewhere) and being content with his provision, idols will cause us to work nonstop, keep all we produce for ourselves, never rest, never let our workers or animals rest, never let our fields rest, not give to the poor, and not give back or to the God who gave us all these things to us in the first place.  It is the driving ambition to serve other gods and make idols out of what our hands have made that prevent the rest and peace that God commands here.  Little wonder why he tells His people to pay attention to this.

In verses 14-17, God commands a return three times a year.  The men were to come before him and bring a portion back to Him.  Three times were set aside in the calendar year for feasts.  One was the Feast of Unleavened Bread, one of the Feast of Harvest/Feast of Weeks, and the last was the Feast of Ingathering/Feast of Tabernacles.  The significance of these festivals is worthy of noting.

With the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the people of God were to remember their deliverance out of Egypt.  It was celebrated in the month of Abib – when they came out of slavery by God’s mighty hand and the unleavened bread pointed to the provision of bread which rained down from heaven for them.

No one was to come to this feast empty-handed.  This feast began the day after Pentecost, or Shavuot. Christians know Pentecost where the Spirit was given but in the Old Testament the Jews knew this holiday as the Feast of Weeks – a time of harvest and firstfruits. There is an unmistakable correlation between these Old Testament practices and the New Testament spiritual realities.  If Jesus death and resurrection and the Holy Spirit’s subsequent work at Pentecost was the first fruits, we would expect what follows to be something that would point back to the deliverance that made those things possible.  That something is the preaching of the gospel.  The preaching of the gospel is what followed the first fruits of Pentecost.  The preaching of the gospel points us always and ever back to the cross – our deliverance out of slavery and bondage to sin.  And, just as no one could come to the Feast of Unleavened Bread empty-handed, no one can come to the true bread from heaven – Jesus Christ – without giving their very life to Him.

Secondly, God instituted the Feast of Weeks.  This was the feast at harvest time.  This was when they brought the first fruits of what they had sown to the House of God.  Just as they were to bring the first and the best of what they obtained from the earth and of their labor, we are to do the same.  God never allowed his people to keep all they had for themselves.  We are to rest, give back to Him and to others, and, in so doing we ought to remember who the Giver is and be thankful.

Lastly, the people were to gather at what was called the Feast of Tabernacles, the Feast of Booths, or, here the Feast of Ingathering.  This gathering was at the year’s end and they were commanded to live in temporary structures during this week’s time.  It was to remind them that though they produced much and were at the end of the abundance for the year, everything given to them here on earth is temporary.  The idea was that they were not to keep back the last portion all for themselves out of fear or worry about the months ahead with no return, and that what was given could not be held forever.  God himself is the sustainer of all things including us and our very lives.  This was also a time of the reading of the law.  It is when we are most blessed that we are most likely to forget God and his requirements.

Lastly, the people of God were instructed once again on the kind of bread and the kind of sacrifice they were to offer.  This reminds us that we cannot worship God any way we want.  There was a specific kind of bread and a specific way to offer their sacrifice.  It is Jesus Christ alone whom we must bring to the altar with us and we must offer ourselves in the way in which he commands.

The very last instruction here is found in verse 19.  The people were told not to boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.  This was a superstition from a pagan religion of the day that said if one did this and sprinkled the milk over the fields, they would produce a better harvest the following year.  God’s people were to have nothing to do with superstition, false religion, idol worship, or pagan practices.  The principle is still true for us today.

Pay attention to these things.  Rest, remember God, and return the best of what he has given you.  Amen.

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4

God lays out the fourth commandment in Exodus 20:8-11.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” 

God commands rest.  The Hebrew word for Sabbath is “shabbat,” and it comes from the word which means, “to cease.” God commands his people to stop working.  Not only they, but their children, animals, and even foreigners passing through their land.  Not one of them was to work on this holy day.

So, you couldn’t just tell someone else to work for you on the Sabbath.  You couldn’t have your servants, kids, or animals pull your weight.  Everyone was to rest.  The reason is because this is the example – the precedent set by God himself in his very creation of the world.

The concept of the Sabbath is very important to us today.  It points us back to creation and, even more importantly, forward to redemption.  In Deuteronomy 5:12-15, the Sabbath was meant to point God’s people to their own deliverance from Egypt – from slavery.

All of this points us, today, to our rest in Christ.  We are commanded to cease from labor; to remember our deliverance from slavery; to rest in Christ alone every single minute of every single day in order to glorify him by our complete and total trust and faith in Him – despite the, often times immense workload he has ordained for us.

Resting in Christ does not mean that once we know him we can shuck all our responsibility and not do that which we have been called to.  It is not holy or righteous to cease from our work by dumping it off on everyone around us while we bask in the presence of God.

 It is tempting, I know.  I personally have an almost superhuman ability to block out noise and distraction when I want to study my Bible.  No matter how many mental gymnastics I do, I cannot justifiably come to the conclusion that God has commanded me to rest instead of doing the jobs he has given to me.  Even on the Sabbath, God has not commanded me to ignore and neglect my home and children in order to prove I am faithfully resting in Him.  No.  God wants me to pray for strength and endurance so I might have the great faith it takes to rest in Him in my most overwhelming circumstances.

Resting is remembering God and trusting him enough to stop working in my own strength, not only for one day per week, but every single day until my eternal rest.

Unfortunately, just like a human, I often get off track.  After I work in my own strength without resting in him for a long time, I crash, I burn, or I quit.  Quitting is resting in my own means.  It is a selfish rest.  And it doesn’t really help me, either.  Vacations do not make overwhelming situations go away.  If I left my home and children for a week, they wouldn’t magically become obedient, mature, and respectful while I was gone.  They may not even be alive anymore!  Literally ceasing from the work God has ordained in my life is never an option!  Ceasing from trusting in myself to accomplish it or trusting in my work itself is what this command calls me to.

On the contrary, carrying on and trusting that He is enough to help me accomplish all that which he has called me to do is truly what resting in him is all about.  That is a holy rest; a God-glorifying rest; a righteous rest.

I believe taking a once a week rest from physical or worldly work and daily responsibilities as much as humanly possible is definitely wise.  I believe, however, the command to keep the Sabbath for New Testament believers is rooted in our rest in grace, not works, and, ultimately, our eternal rest in Christ, in heaven.  Even a more literal approach to Sabbath-keeping only indicates and prescribes one day per week for rest from our human responsibilities and callings.  That means the more time we spend “resting” outside that prescription, the less we are actually trusting in God to give and provide us with the true rest he has promised – the rest that comes solely from Him despite overwhelming circumstances and hard labor coupled with a constant, urgent call to share his good news with everyone, everywhere, always.

“Neglected duties remain duties still, notwithstanding our neglect.” ~Matthew Henry

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jehovah

God’s people had been blessed over and over and over again.  It seemed that the more they were given, the more they cried, quarreled, and complained. These are all the tell-tale signs of being spoiled, rotten children.

Daddy gives and forgives; they cry and complain.  The pattern was very clear.  Wah! Wah! Wah! We want more!  We want different!  We want it now and if you don’t give us what we want right now we will scream, Daddy!  We don’t even remember the good you do!  We forget!  Give us more or we will say bad things about you, Daddy!  Waaaaaahh!  You hate us!

No, kids.  I think it might be you who hates me.  Because you love yourself so much, you have no room for me.  Everything I try to do to prove my love for you just leads to more unbelief, complaining, and rejection.  I have never rejected you.  You have rejected me.

So, you want to cry and complain?  You want to quarrel?  I’ll give you something to cry about.  I’ll give you someone your own size to quarrel with.

Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. ~Exodus 17:8

The Amalekites were descendants of Esau.  Esau – the one whom God hated.  Esau – the one who valued temporary comfort over his very own future.  Esau – the rejected one; the hot-tempered antagonist; the one who thought more about a mere bowl of soup than the extravagant blessing of his very own father.  What a fool!

The Amalekites were the descendants of an utter fool.  They were the children of selfishness, impulsiveness, and impatience.  This is who God sends to quarrel with his quarrelsome, spoiled rotten children.  God, through this battle with the rejected ones, teaches his children how to trust him.

Well played, God, well played.

Moses sends Joshua out to choose an army and fight.  Moses, Aaron (his brother), and Hur (his brother-in-law), go up to the top of the hill overlooking the battle.  Moses holds up his wonder-working staff to signify God’s presence and encourage the soldiers.  Joshua is called to fight and Moses is called to pray.  Both are called to minister, help, rescue, defend, and deliver God’s people.  Simply recognizing differences in personality and calling go a long way in the fight against favoritism, superiority, and inferiority structures among God’s people.

These guys only have one problem.  It isn’t that they have an enemy.  It is that their leader is tired.  Moses’ arms are heavy.  He’s been holding the staff up all day.  Every time Moses gets tired, the staff drops and the enemy begins to win the battle.  When the staff is lifted, God’s people win.

“The strongest arm will fail with being long extended; it is God only whose hand is stretched out still.  We do not find that Joshua’s hands were heavy in fighting, but Moses’s hands were heavy in praying.  The more spiritual any service is the more apt we are to fail and flag in it.  Praying work, if done with due intenseness of mind and vigor of affection, will be found hard work, and though the spirit be willing, the flesh will be weak.  ~Matthew Henry

God doesn’t leave Moses in this weary state of trying and failing; working and wearying.  Instead, God uses Moses’ brothers to hold up his very arms; to give him rest on a rock.

But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword. ~Exodus 17:12-13

God held Moses up for the benefit of his people.  God loves his children no matter how bad their behavior becomes.  He often uses the sin and selfishness of those who are not his own in order to discipline and instruct his children on what it really means to trust him.  God doesn’t allow his children to be spoiled, rotten brats.  Sometimes he sends brats who are even more spoiled and even more rotten to confront them; to show them; to draw them back to their desperate need for him.

When there is quarreling and complaining among God’s people, we ought not be surprised when God sends outsiders to come in and quarrel with us.  Though we may, in our flesh, grow weary in well-doing, if we are seeking to serve God and encourage our brothers and sisters, God will send ample support.  He will give us rest.

God longs to be our Jevohah-nissi, “The Lord is my banner.” His very presence is our strength and he wants us to look to Him and trust in Him alone.  He is our warrior who fights for us.  He is our intercessor who prays for us.  No matter how poor and petty our behavior becomes, it never defines us in Our Father’s eyes.  Our identity is found in our citizenship within his family.  He is faithful to send discipline when we are bratty and rest when we are weary.  He is our Jehovah-nissi.  He fights for us and his very presence is our banner, our sword, our wonder-working staff, and our very strength.

“Let ages come to know that God fights for his people and he that touches them touches the apple of his eye.” Matthew Henry

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addie

Her pom-poms are perfectly placed.  Her bow is beautiful in her brand new beauty salon hair.  Her uniform turns her into a magazine-ready midget model and she smiles sweetly every time the camera captures her.

About mid-game, she moves from formation to the bench.  “What’s wrong?” Coach-mom asks.  “You’re doing so good!  You are so cute out there!”

“I’m cute…but…I’m not…satisfied.”

The words come with conviction.  I know it’s the truth.

My nine year-old is the most expressive and unique child.  We call her quirk.  She loves putting on her sunglasses and pretending she’s a rock star named James Q. Jackson – Michael’s brother of course.  She has whole conversations with her clothing, her stuffed animals, her altar egos, and her feet.  She actually has a foot phone wherein she puts her foot to her ear and talks, generally about her other foot and his bad behavior.  There is no one quite like Addie.

I’m cute but I’m not satisfied.  Now that’s profound.  She has somehow managed to put into words the way beautiful women feel most of their lives.  She has successfully described the end result of an appearance-driven culture as felt in the hearts of its objects.

There’s a lot I could say about that statement and how young girls and young women are viewed.  I think we all know what I’m talking about.  But I want to examine another issue – an issue related to what I believe my bow-bearing brought to life Barbie was really feeling.

Addie was tired.  She stays up reading when everyone else goes to bed.  She is my hardcore sleeper-inner.  She is a gamer who knows more about how to fix my computer and phone issues than the employees at the apple store.  She gets so excited about fishing that she begins to babble in her own language when she catches one.  She doesn’t like to get up on Saturday morning to go practice cheer-leading.  This particular day, we had practice followed by the game.  She’d simply had enough.

  Enough what?

Enough fake smiling when she wasn’t happy.  Enough cheer-leading when she needed resting.  Enough skirt when all she wanted was sweats.  Enough jumping and shouting when she needed quiet and peace.  Enough pretty pretend when she wanted not so pretty real.  Enough real game time when she needed more practice.  Enough encouraging a team she did not know when she needed a family she did.  Enough place she felt uncomfortable when all she wanted was to sit in her favorite spot and be Addie…or James…or Hazel…or whichever personality made her happy at that moment.  All she knew was that bow-bearing Barbie wasn’t working.  Not today.  Maybe not ever.

The truth is that Addie is young.  She doesn’t know who she is yet.  She doesn’t even know who she wants to be.  All she knows is how she feels when she does that which she is not particularly predisposed for.  And that is ok!  Nothing makes me madder than when I see parents obligating children to do that which they are not geared for.

From beautiful women to tired teeny-boppers, no one wants to feel like the sun total of their existence is what is on the outside. Not one of us can live our lives as though how we are feeling on the inside does not matter.  Oh, we can ignore it for a long, lost, and losing time, but eventually we will sit down.  It will likely happen mid-game.  We will sit down, lay down, fall down, or just be down because we were not made to prioritize pretend personalities.

Addie has pretend personalities because some of her real ones feel pretend to her.  She is uncomfortable, like a fish out of water, and she doesn’t know how to make herself “satisfied” when she is asked to be what she is not.

I try to give a variety of opportunities for my daughters to become well-rounded individuals.  I try to introduce them to as many things as I can so that they can find their niche and truly be satisfied in their own skin.  I want nothing more than for them to be exactly who they are.

I want to be exactly who I am.  We all do.  Who wants to be who they’re not?  By all appearances, we can pull off the pretend and be as cute as the day is long but if we settle for superficial, we will never, ever be deeply and wholly satisfied.  Little wonder why so many people are unhappy in life when the majority do not seek to do that which affords them the time and the space to be and do what they were made for.

God created us to be unique, inwardly satisfied individuals.  Don’t ever let outward achievement and admirable appearances take the place of inner peace.  Take the job you enjoy for less money.  Have children before you have the extra room for them.  Get married before you can pay for a wedding.  Don’t get married even if you already ordered the invitations.  Volunteer.  Work less hours to invest in other things.  Work more hours to get to where you want to go.  Get up early so you can pray.  Ask God who He created you to be.  Go back to school.  Quit school.  Join a team.  Quit the team.  Do not settle for being anyone other than you.  Be exactly who you are and be unashamed of it.

“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” ~John Piper

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rest

After all the grumbling and disobedience of God’s people, God gives another important word to Moses.  He commands them to rest, and, not only to rest, but to remember.

God’s people were called to a Sabbath rest on the 7th day of the week.  They did not listen at first (Exodus 16:25-26) and their leader, Moses, was indicted for it.  God gives the command again and they rested. (Exodus 16:30)

God tells them that they must keep a portion of the manna itself in order to have even their children know and remember for all generations what God did and how he did it.

God saved.  God rescued.  God delivered.  God provided.  Do not forget, kids.  Tell your kids and their kids and their kids’ kids…tell the kids in the 21st century.  God brought you out of slavery.  He did signs and wonders.  He led you to a barren wilderness and he provided everything you needed.  Forty years he provided and forty years you ate.  It was forty years until they came to the border of the promised land. (Exodus 16: 35)

In order to rightly remember God’s tender care and provision, this portion is to be placed before the testimony to be kept.  Eventually it goes into the ark of the covenant which goes into the holy of holies in God’s temple – where the presence of God was – along with two other items: the tablets with the 10 commandments and Aaron’s rod that budded.  It is in the holiest holy place – the very presence of God – that we are provided for when we remember his care and love for us.

In God’s holy presence we have the law, the provision, and the intercessor.

The stone tablets with the law represented God’s holy standards.  It serves to remind his people of what we are called to, that we are guilty, and how much we need a savior – Jesus.

The manna represented God’s provision and his call to rest.  It serves to remind God’s people of his tender mercies and great care for us.  It points us to our daily bread from heaven – Jesus Christ.

Aaron’s rod represented his miraculous power in Egypt and God’s choosing in the priests (Numbers 16-17) – namely Our High Priest, Jesus.  The story of the budding of Aaron’s rod reminds us of God’s sovereign choice and power.  When men came leading a revolt against Moses and Aaron seeking to cast doubt upon their calling and discredit them, God showed up angry to defend them, chose those whom He willed, and Moses and Aaron made atonement for their accusers.  The budding rod reminds us of Our Chosen High Priest who lives to intercede for us – Our Lord Jesus.

So who will you find in the secret place of God’s holy presence when you seek him with all your heart?

Jesus.  Jesus Christ.  Our Lord, Jesus.  He is the true bread from heaven.

“The people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land.  They ate the manna till they came to the border of the land of Canaan.” ~Exodus 16:35

The wilderness won’t last forever, friend.  God promises a new land, flowing with milk and honey.  He provides everything we need until we get there.  Therefore, rest.  Rest and remember.

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sweet

No sooner do God’s people sing their great song of prayer, victory, and celebration to Him than they are led into the wilderness.  These people are on quite a journey – a grand adventure wherein they must learn how to follow the commands of a righteous, heavenly master as opposed to the unjust earthly master they had just been delivered from.  Let’s just call it an adjustment period.

They arrive in the desert and they are, not surprisingly, thirsty.  They only water they do find is bitter and undrinkable…so…because they just saw all these miracles, watched God destroy their fierce enemies, and sang for joy, they decide to pray for good water and they live happily ever after…

Fail.  Unfortunately that is not what God’s people did.  Even after all they had just seen God do for them, they allow their physical thirst to shift their focus from joy and praise to unbelief and complaining.  Even after all they had seen God do, these followers went right back to complaining.

 And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” ~Exodus 15:24

I call them “followers” because that is what they were.  Some people are leaders.  Others are followers.  One is not better than the other.  The problem was not that they were followers, it was who they were following.  When they should have been following God and his prophet, they chose to follow each other and their physical and emotional desires  dwelling upon all they could find unfortunate about their situation.  It proved a real lack of character and maturity on their part.

Fortunately, God’s people had a prophet.  Oh, wait, that was the guy they were complaining about.  Drat.  The very man whom God gave to help, to deliver, to lead, and to prophesy to them, they exasperate and burden by their abusive speech against him.  Here, they have a man who was trusting God as he led them.  Yet, they grumble against him.

Moses prayed.  Moses cried out to God on behalf of his very fearful, unbelieving, abusive followers formerly known as the joyful praisers of the Lord who sang the great victory song right along with him just three days before.

God answers Moses’ prayer miraculously.  The text says: “And he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.” (Exodus 15:25)

Wait.  God “showed” the prophet a log?  A log.  What?  How does that work?  Does God just point out random objects to people and enlighten them about what he wants done with them?

I am here to tell you…Yes.  He.  Does.  God speaks to people who pray in earnest to him for the sake of others.  God is in no way limited in the means or the methods he may choose to use for the sake of his people.  God can and does use whatever he will when we are willing to listen and obey.

God can use a log.  He can use a murderer like Moses.  He can use a donkey, a tax collector, a doctor, a colt, a hate-filled Pharisee like Saul (Paul), or even, *gasp*, a GIRL if he wants to.  May he, complaining unbeliever?  May he, grumbling follower?  Just wondering.

Here, God gave his prophet practical insight and wisdom on what to do and how to do it.  The prophet obeyed and God provided.  Therefore, what was bitter and unusable became life-giving to all God’s people.  So God used an obedient, praying murderer turned prophet coupled with an inanimate object in order to work a miracle and set an extremely important precedent for his people.

It seems that change is always difficult for people.  It is one thing to follow an earthly master who threatens punishment and sure death in the instance of disobedience.  It is another to be given freedom and liberty to choose right or wrong for the sake of a life-giving, heavenly Master who has just shown you great love, grace, mercy, and favor.  Here, God clears up any misconceptions these chosen ones may have had about their responsibility to him as well as the consequences of their obedience and disobedience, respectively.  God made himself quite clear.  His message was this:

Hey, kids.  I have control over all things.  I have been extremely gracious to you.  I destroyed your enemies because of their sin.  I know it is hard to believe, but I am not going to just overlook your sin.   Listen and obey me and you will be healed and protected.  Ignore and disobey me and you will be destroyed just like your enemies.  You are no better, no different, and in no way above them.  All men are the same to me.  This is life or death.  You choose.

Matthew Henry puts it this way, “Let not the Israelites think, because God had thus highly honored them in the great things he had done for them, and had proclaimed the to all the world his favorites, that therefore he would connive at their sins and let them do as they would.  No, God is no respecter of persons; a rebellious Israelites shall fare no better than a rebellious Egyptian; and so they found, to their cost, before they got to Canaan.”  

Like I said, change is always difficult for people – especially those who have lived in harsh bondage their entire lives; especially those who have lived in positions of preference, position, and pride over their own personal heritage their entire lives. When transitioning from a slave-driving, hard task-master like Pharaoh and sin, as well as from a self-serving attitude of self-importance wherein our task-master is our own sin, to a life-giving, love-bestowing, righteous Father-master like God, we are, like they were, bound to have some misconceptions and make some mistakes.  God knew.  That is why he made himself so clear upon their entry to this wilderness.

The prophet has spoken.  The miracle has proven his prayers as effective as his words were true.  Now, God’s great mercy gives even more grace.

 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water. ~Exodus 15:27

God gave a place of rest and refreshment.  He will do the same for us if we would but trust him.

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bowl

She steps out of her shoes and into rare form.  It’s people time.  My megaphone mouthed mini me begins to melt down.

Maylee wants to bowl.  She loves bowling.  But her bowling shoes bring with them a big bawl – and I don’t mean the kind you roll.  Just like with the way too heavy bowling ball, her five year-old strength is scarcely equipped to be thrown down the alley alone.

My soon to be six year-old is an introvert.  She gets nervous around new people, unfamiliar places, and unexpected experiences.  This is a girl who, by age three, decided that opening her Christmas presents was far less important than having to hide her reaction to them.  She clams up.  She falls out.  And when all else fails, she lets her fear and fury fly the only way a normal non-social knows how.  The equation for all you analyticals like me goes something like this: mommy + volume = safety.

Yesterday was daddy’s turn, though.  As expected, despite her superhero cape, her turn came up and her countenance fell down.  All I can say is, I’m glad bowling alleys are used to a high number of decibels.

Stripping off her borrowed shoes in self-protective defiance, she began to wail.  He scooped her up swiftly and began the universal daddy fix – fast hand motion on and off the crying mouth.  After obtaining the desired mouth in front of a fan noise, the crying turned to laughter.  She lay in his lap and I watched her change.  More than a few moments mounted before the shoes went back on and the first turn was taken.  Meanwhile, I studied.  I learned.  I saw my need and I saw the solution plain as the tears running down both of our faces.

Despite the fact that I do prefer books over people any time prior to eight a. m., I am not an introvert.  Nerd, yes.  Instrospective, yes.  Introvert, not so much.  But the truth is that I have lived my entire life guarded.  I am extremely self-protective.  Where Maylee avoids social interaction, I try to control it.  I hide myself until the game is over.  Maybe everyone does to a certain extent.  I mean, we learn this.  Pain is a powerful teacher.  We swear after the first time we are rejected for being who we are that it will be the last.  We become someone else more pleasing, less pleasing, or altogether absent.  One way or another, we hide.

Little wonder!  It is a fearful thing to be vulnerable; exposed; honest about who we really are.  Rejection often gives way to isolation, anonymity, and a general superficiality with everyone all the time.

This is a problem for everyone, but it is particularly a problem for deep, analytical thinkers.  We need our schematics to connect.  Our world is very complex.  Superficiality has no place.  Our circuits must close and open properly, lest we get shocked, start a fire, or stay in the dark alone.

What we often fail to realize is that rest in Daddy’s arms is the only place true peace is found.  Even if it all made sense; even if life’s math all worked out; even if I wasn’t afraid or anxious or hurt or lonely – the only place closure and connection could truly be found would still be lying in Daddy’s lap allowing him to know me; learning to know him.

I read a blog about an old study about scientifically trying to make people fall in love recently printed in the New York Times.  (Apparently it doesn’t work for people who are already in love.  My husband and I tried it and ended up arguing.)  Anyway, the writer did get one thing right.  She said, “…the story isn’t about us; it’s about what it means to bother to know someone, which is really a story about what it means to be known.” ~Mandy Len Carton

Only my heavenly father can give me the confidence it takes to get my borrowed shoes on and throw the balls I can barely lift down life’s alley.  Because at the end of the day, that’s all our time and space in this world is – borrowed.  The things that belong to us are better.

My dad was electrical engineer.  Maybe that’s why I’m often a resistor in this circuit we call life.  I believe it’s who my heavenly father made me, though.  Without resistors, current won’t flow.  It’s not about who does or doesn’t like resistors or what we have to say.  It’s about the grand schematic and the glory to come with it.

Regardless of who he has created us to be or what our vices or voices are, the solution is always found resting in our father’s arms.  When we do so, his name is hallowed.

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