Thursday, January 12, 2017
“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy. Exodus 20:8-11(NLT)
As a child, my first impression of the Ten Commandments (probably along with the rest of humanity) is that this set of rules was going to make life harder. I never suspected these ten gifts were principles to a fuller and happier life.
The reality of joy that is contained in God’s 10 Words took a long time to get through my skull, this intellectual veneer of independence, which, by-the-way, all of Adam’s children use (including you) to protect that connection we have with the pride of life. We want what we want, and we despise anything that tinkers with our plans.
My mother learned just how stubborn that independent streak is in me when I was just a pre-schooler. I was trying to get my winter coat on so I could go out and play, and was having trouble closing the zipper. She moved closer to help me zip it up, and I batted her hand away: NO; I’ll do it! That was about 65 years ago, but I still remember the look in her eyes; it was recognition that it was going to be a long road raising this one!
Gradually, and mostly because of trial and error, the truth of the goodness of God’s commands dawned on me. Reading Lloyd Ogilvie’s book helped; in one chapter on dealing with stress I read:
In mechanics the word stress is used for the internal strength of a metal to withstand extreme weight or pressure. It is interesting to note that stress on metals is measured by what is called the yield point and the failure point. The yield point is when the stress on the material actually makes it stronger, but the failure point is when the strain breaks the load-bearing capacity of the metal.[ii]
If you think of God’s Ten Commandments more like the keys to finding the yield points where we learn to surrender our will, they always help us stop short of the failure point.
When we yield to God’s ways (like remembering Sabbath) we are made stronger by the appropriate stress which pushes us in the direction of recharged batteries, moments for reflection and regaining our internal compass. It’s a matter of yield and be made stronger! And this is so different from the failure point of burnout and bad choices.
In this way God’s “rules” don’t put us in-prison, they help us avoid the death penalty!
If you were to review the Ten Commands we find in Exodus 20, would you come across any in which you’ve avoided the joy awaiting you by yielding instead of resisting?
[ii] Lloyd Ogilvie, Ask Him Anything: God Can Handle Your Hardest Questions, 1983 (emphasis mine)