Our reading for Tuesday, May 14, 2019 is Deuteronomy 6:1-9.
These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. 3 Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, promised you. 4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. – NIV
Living life as God has designed provides the best opportunity for making life good. I believe this and it is because I have found my living by faith in Christ has blessed me that I want others to embrace his reality and follow him too. I recognize there are others who have a greater amount of possessions and opportunities to travel and enjoy life, yet what I have has brought me great contentment and I do not feel I lack in anything.
I can look at the lives others live who do not actively follow Christ as I do and recognize the limits their tangible abundance provides them and the struggles they face despite their freedom from religious practice they endorse by their lifestyles. I also acknowledge my life with Christ does not relieve me of similar struggles and sorrows others without an active faith face. I do notice that my chosen path has prevented me from falling into many pitfalls others have fallen into.
When I consider the plusses and minuses of my chosen journey I would conclude my life with Christ has placed me on the upside of fulfillment as opposed to the downsides of life. I therefore affirm the sentiments expressed in our passage. As I have followed the Lord in my life he has fulfilled or is fulfilling his promise of my abundance. I also believe that should I abandon my active practice of faith I would miss out on much I have come to cherish. What has been your experience?
This being said I must also confess the temptation to disbelieve God’s promises when I face a particular time of hardship. This winter has been hard for me with unwanted changes in my vocation and the death of my Mom. Through it all I have had to intentionally remind myself of God’s promises and do what it takes to stay close to Christ. Not that these times are fully behind me but I can say to date God is good and trust him fully for what other challenges he will have me face in the near future. I know whatever may come he will be with me.
This is the point – God has been with me through the storms and lessened their impact on my life. Through the providence of God I have seen evidence for renewed hope and even the potential for deeper joy. The difference comes in facing life and the future alone or with the One who created life and who faced death only to rise from its grasp. Those not walking with Christ will not know of his companionship and aid.
The remainder of today’s passage reminds us how we need to convey these values and potentials of life in faith to our children, and for me particularly now, my grandchildren. As I speak these values to you I need to speak them to them. I need to saturate their life with the teachings, the promises of what God offers in Christ. I need to talk with them along the way which for me means beyond formal moments of teaching and worship but as we face the particulars of everyday life together.
This also challenges me to practice what I believe and live before them the values I profess in terms of how I respond to them and other challenges they will watch me handle. I must practice these values even as I respond to the challenges my children and grandchildren present along the way.
I am reminded that we can only impress the benefits of walking closely with Christ on those we love and encourage their adoption of an active faith and the values of Christian living. We cannot force them nor enforce them. In the tension this brings I am encouraged to pray for it is only God who can help us find our way to impact those we love positively for Christ. It is up to others to open the door and allow the holy Spirit to convince them of the truth.