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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Reflections in Deuteronomy

I'm part of an online Bible Book Club which consists of ladies around the country who have committed to read the Bible through in three years. This has been an incredibly convenient way for me to make sure that I'm reading The Most Important Book of All. It's so easy for me to get caught up in tales and stories but I frequently neglect one of God's bests gifts to me.

This month we're in the book of Deuteronomy and I can't honestly say that it's one of my favorite books. I have previously found Exodus to Deuteronomy to be on the dull side. I'd be lying if I suggested that I found every word in the Bible riveting. But just because I'm not enthralled doesn't mean that I can ignore it. It's kinda like eating cauliflower (if you don't like cauliflower like I don't). You know it's good for you. But it's rather a distasteful ordeal. Or so it has been.

I'm not blogging about each book of the Bible that we've finished but I am marking it in my "Books read" list here. I'm going to make a quick exception for Deuteronomy (and any others that stand out to me in a new way).

Today I'm doing a bit of catch up work in my reading "assignment" due to the fact that, once again, I got caught up in some other books plus we're in the process of moving. Suffice it to say - if I live through this month and still have something of a sane mind, we'll be good. At any rate . . .

I was reading chapters 11-18 today and if Moses said it once to the Isrealites, he must have said a hundred times (not quite, but I'm a bit of an exaggerator at times) that the Lord would choose places in the promised land for his children to consecrate/dedicate/sacrifice.

For example:

Deut. 7:8 "If cases come before your courts that are too difficult for you to judge—whether bloodshed, lawsuits or assaults—take them to the place the LORD your God will choose."

Deut. 18:6 "If a Levite moves from one of your towns anywhere in Israel where he is living, and comes in all earnestness to the place the LORD will choose"


(emphasis mine)

Moses was not allowed to enter into the promised land due to his own disobedience to the Lord. He had led the people through the wilderness and brought them to the place where God wanted them before they entered into the new land. However, before Moses' time with the Israelites was up - God used him to re-communicate certain laws and truths to the people. In so doing, Moses was also relinquishing his position of authority over the Israelites.

Moses didn't know exactly where and when certain things would happen to the people as they conquered the promised land. He continuously made the statement that things would happen as the "Lord [would] choose." Suddenly the people that Moses had "fathered", guided and led were going to be continuing an adventure that would not include him. He had to let go. He was no longer in charge.

As a parent, I know what it feels like to be in charge of a people. (In my particular case, it's only one person but 'a person's a person no matter how small' . . .) I've also done a wee bit of parenting outside of my own offspring. You're in charge. You call the shots. And then? You let go. I know it's coming just as sure as anything.

I'm also a fairly newly wed. I know that my parents, and my husband's parents, had to let us go - officially - when we took our vows and I committed to following my husband's leadership. That can also be a tough transition. I know that I will experience the same transition with my own kids and so I pray I remember the lessons I have learned from life experience, and the lessons God teaches through Moses.

Eventually the time comes when you say goodbye. You step away and acknowledge, "I'm not in control anymore. In fact, I can't even pretend to be because I'm obviously very much not in the picture." (In Moses' case, he died. I'd rather my parting from parenting my kids be a bit different.) When they grow up (AS they grow up!) I'm in a constant process of giving up control. First it comes in the form of him taking hold of his own dining utensils and learning to feed himself. He doesn't need me to shovel the food in anymore. Next (I assume) he leaves diapers and I am no longer responsible for cleaning up those messes. (Can't say I'll miss it.) I can virtually guarentee you that I'd almost rather him not learn to read by himself for fear of not having our "cozy" time. ("Co-gee"? I do NOT want to lose "Co-gee" time!) But it will happen. As sure as I'm sitting here.

In that transitional moment I have to know -- and my baby has to know -- that God knows. My responsibility is to "let go and let God." My son's responsibility is to follow after God and seek His face so that he can properly discern God's will for his own life. My son cannot rely on my faith to save him, no more than I could rely on my parents' faith. No more than the Isrealites could rely on Moses' faith. They had to stand firm in their own right and choose whether or not they would obey the God who saved them from slavery and set them free.

It is hard to let go of little moments. I know that letting go when my son is grown will not be easy. Giving up control of something that was exclusively yours never is. But it is as God chooses. He always chooses wisely and chooses well.

I can depend on that.

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