No one likes to be told that. For your own good. Any sentence that starts or ends or includes anywhere that statement…well, it’s just annoying. Really annoying. The kind of annoying that sometimes evokes the well-I’ll-go-ahead-and-do-it-anyway immature attitude in even the most logical among us, especially when we disagree about whether or not it’s good for us.
The book of Deuteronomy in the Bible talks all about what the Israelites should expect and do once they enter the Promised Land, the land of milk and honey. After hundreds of years of being in slavery and decades in the desert, they are about to begin a life in the land that God had set aside for them. It was going to be good. Really good. But before they step foot in it, God, through Moses, gives them a few last reminders and pieces of advice.
“During those forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet. You ate no bread and drank no wine or other fermented drink. I did this so that you might know that I am the Lord your God.”
Sounds easy. Sounds reasonable. They needed to learn a lesson. They needed to understand that God is God and they are not. They needed such discipline. Yup. That’s what they needed.
God goes on to remind them that there will be a time when they face temptation and think, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way,” but warns that “they will bring disaster…” (Deuteronomy 29:19).
I like to think that I’m wiser, more mature and logical than this. I like to think that I am able to remember to obey and do what God wants me to do in any given situation. I like to think that I have the discipline to yield to such instruction. But I am only fooling myself.
The number of times [a day] I respond, speak and act outside of what I consciously or subconsciously know is good and right and true is embarrassing. And what happens next? Disaster. Perhaps not complete and utter and irreversible disaster, but there’s certainly some sort of result that is not ideal or preferred. I end up being more frustrated, more hurt, more disappointed. I find myself praying [begging] God to “fix it, please!” being well aware that it’s my own silly fault for being in such a situation.
Fortunately, God knows our hearts. He knows that we’re a mess. He even says that and spends pages of the Bible predicting that we will struggle, suffer and turn our backs on him. Praise God – literally – that he loves us anyway. Praise God that he promises that even when we have twisted, manipulated and messed up, “the Lord your God will gather [me/us/you] and bring [me/us/you] back” (Deuteronomy 30:4). Praise God that he knows what’s best for our own good.