I just finished reading the Bible! (though actually most of it was listening to it on my Bible app while driving or making breakfast).
And I’m asking myself what my biggest takeaway was from this time around. I think it was similar to the first time around. It’s this:
Dang, there’s a lot of God getting real mad at his people and threatening to punish them.
Maybe that’s because the “read the Bible in a year” plan has a lot of the gloom and doom prophets in the last three months. But it got me thinking. If he spends so much time on this, what is he trying to say to us? Why is this applicable to me?
And this is what it is, I think.
“I really want you guys to obey me.”
I think most of modern Christian culture emphasizes grace and forgiveness, and that’s half of it, but I also think God wants us to obey! I mean, he’s really serious about it in the Old Testament! And if we’re going to get anything out of all the violent punishment he threatened them with, it is the gravity of our sin.
So this hit home when I hit Chapter 28 of Jeremiah. This might sound ridiculous but a month or so before I got to Jeremiah, I felt God had told me two things during my quiet time. 1: workout an hour every day (I know, sounds weird), and 2: help the poor. I put those in the back of my mind as things I’ll try to do more of.
So then my Bible plan took me through 28 chapters of God getting super ticked off at His people in Jeremiah for being kind of disobedient. I got so frustrated and was like, Dude, God, why all the fuss, man? You sound pretty ridiculous for going ballistic on them for like sleeping around a little bit and kind of becoming lackadaisical about their devotion.
But then I thought, what if He knows what he’s talking about. If so, why on earth would He be acting like this? What could He possibly be trying to tell me, if He really is actually doing it for a reason.
And I heard an answer (probably just critical reading habits just kicking in, but God can use that.)
“What does this show you is important to me?”
Oh. . . I get it. Obedience is really important.
“Yep. And what have I asked you to be obedient in?”
Oh. Um. Crap. yeah. I guess there was that workout thing. And the helping the poor thing.
So there’s that.
And then I read the next chapter, and after all the strict threats of the previous 28 chapters, God says in Jeremiah 29, “I know the plans I have for you. To prosper you and not to harm you. To give you hope and a future.”
So I signed up for the YMCA and started helping with an after school program. And although those are things I probably wouldn’t do on my own, they’ve been really cool for me! Areas of my life that I never thought were important are coming to life and I feel like more of a well rounded, generous human. Acting out of trust on someone else’s request and seeing what happens, it turns out, is kind of cool.
I think in church we talk a lot about how much God loves us. And I think he TOTALLY does. But sometimes He loves us like a dad who sees something better in my future, and knows if I obey I’ll be much happier and healthier. I will see hope proved out, and will be moving toward a better, redemptive future.
Raw Spoon (6-4-15)
If you want to listen to the Bible in an smart phone app, I’d totally recommend it. It’s on the app store as “YouVersion Bible.”