Iíve been reading my Bible before I go to bed at night. This is a new thing for me, which seems really sad as I look about at all the pretty and unused versions of Bibles I have lying around (ugh: wonít even get into the ìin America, gross excess is only half enoughî thing; letís just say Iím being an excellent American – ugh).
A few years ago I read all of my Bible as part of my new habit for the year. Iíve heard so many negative things about making New Yearís Resolutions, that they donít stick, that I never really got into that whole ìself-bettermentî thing. But then one year I realized it didnít have to be an Extreme Makeover, but just a subtle betterment. My first resolution: to floss daily. The next year: drink enough water. And to this day, I still do both of those other things.
Some habits havenít stuck – I buckle my seatbelt only out of duty to my father asking, and I still balance my checkbook by hitting ìbalance inquiryî on the ATM. And I stopped reading my Bible: Iíd pick it up here and there, but Iíd get bogged down either by Paulís deep, convoluted ramblings or by the mundane details about mildew in Leviticus. But Iíve been in an *awesome* Bible study lead by Pam Lau, and God has placed a concern on her heart that she be Bible-based and that she share that with others. She doesnít exalt the Bible above God, turning it into an idol (so easy to do), but rather encourages us and points out that itís a tool to communicate with, to be in communion with God.
So I picked up my childrenís Bible – a little red, beat-up book with a few pictures: the International Childrenís Bible in the New Century Version presented to Adrienne Gerick by Daddy & Mommy (I wrote my name, and I made each of them write theirsí – and Dadís is legible: quite the feat): I figured if I couldn’t make it through a children’s Bible, I was hopeless. I decided to read ten chapters a night because ten is a nice round number, and I like things to be nice and round (like my babyís tookus).
Right now Iím in Numbers, journeying with the Israelites as they begin to figure out what this whole covenant thing is all about. But a passage I read last week has been lingering in my mind, so I figured Iíd do some blogal processing. Itís in Exodus as God has rescued, liberated, delivered the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. Heís been giving some laws here and there (man: thereís a lot of laws!) that will allow the people to be in communion with Him, to keep them clean. After all the ìbring the best firstfruitsî and ìdonít offer animal blood along with anything that has yeast in itî (I really wish I had a Jewish interpreter to tell me the deal with certain stuff like yeast – I didnít know God was a low carb kinda guy), God says, ìAnd hereís what Iíll do for you.î
ìI will make your enemies afraid of me. I will confuse any people you fight against. I will make all your enemies run away from you. I will send something like hornets ahead of you. They will force the Hivites, Canaanites, and Hittites out of your way. But I will not force all of those people out in only one year. If I did, the land would become a desert. Then the wild animals would become too many for you. Instead, I will force those people out of your land very slowly. I will wait until there are enough of you to take over the land.î ~ Exodus 23: 27-30
First of all, I have a major God/perfectionist-complex in that I feel like I need to get all my crap together before I come to God to let Him change/clean me (see a brilliant post along the same lines). Second of all, I have a major twitching of my foot as it taps impatiently going, ìGod, this is a problem in me; if I can see it, You can, too. SO WHY DONíT YOU FIX IT?!!î
These verses gave me a little illumination into the methods of God. The Promised Land is a land flowing with milk and honey: itís full of bountiful blessings. But itís also full of giants and fortified cities. As the Israelites had their forty year wandering in the desert, they learned a lesson of faith: that God would deliver them through their troubles, not from them. If God eliminated everyone, the Israelites wouldíve moved into a barren, animal-overrun wilderness; but by resting in faith that God would deliver them through their troubles in His own time, they were able to inherit bounties of the land – cities, irrigation systems, wealth: things they didnít have to build for themselves because God transformed the bad into good for those who have faith in Him and His timing.
What does that mean for the checklist of problems that I mentally keep for myself? Iím not quite sure: thereís so many flaws I canít imagine why God doesnít just zap them right now. But my job is to rest in an active faith and believe that God will deliver me through these problems in His timing; that Heíll transform them into something that can bless others.
Maybe my habit for next year will be to learn to wait, or would it be more appropriate to put that off for another year? ðŸ™‚