When the Answer is, “No”

“For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the Lord, who has mercy on you” Isaiah 54:10 (NLT).

Exactly two weeks had passed since the interview. My husband came in the front door with the mail in his hands, holding the letter addressed to me. My heart sank, because I knew the job offer doesn’t usually come in a letter. As I opened the envelope, the first sentence read, “Thank you for applying…the position has been filled.” At the bottom was a short, hand-written message stating how much they enjoyed meeting me and that they hoped our paths would soon cross again.

You’re never really ready for the “No” – in my opinion – especially, when it’s something you really want. The last time I remember being that nervous opening a letter was when I had received the news that I had been accepted to my College of choice. Yet, this time it felt very different. This time tears followed instead of cheers. The answer was “No.”

One of my favorite Christian authors is Lysa TerKeurst. In her book, “Uninvited,” Lysa writes about her own personal experiences with rejection. In the book, TerKeurst candidly opens up about her past issues with abandonment and struggling to find her own identity. These are two issues that I can certainly relate to. Most of my past was spent trying to fit myself into a mold based on what others’ expectations were of me. This led to years of struggling with low self esteem, which in turn led to years of fixating on other people who I thought I could “fix,” in order to not have to take a look at my own issues that needed “fixing.” One of my favorite quotes from TerKeurst’s book is this, “The mind feasts on what it focuses on. What consumes my thinking will be the making or the breaking of my identity.”

Very early on in Scripture, we meet someone who did not follow the crowd or care what others thought about him. That person was Noah. In Genesis, Chapter 6, we learn about how the people living at that time forgot about God. There was only one man and his family who worshipped God – that was Noah. God saw the evil nature of the people and decided to destroy all the living creatures “for they have filled the earth with violence” (see Genesis 6:13). But, God chose to save Noah and his family, because Noah was “righteous,” “blameless” and because, “he walked in close fellowship with God” (see Genesis 6:9b).

As the Chapter goes on, we read of God’s instructions to Noah to build a boat that is “450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high.” He then goes on to explain exactly how the boat is to be built and that Noah is to also bring a pair of every kind of animal – male and female – into the boat with him to keep alive during the flood that God will bring on to destroy every living thing that breathes. And if that isn’t enough, Noah was to also take on board enough food for his family and for all of the animals (see Genesis 6:14-21). In the very next verse we read, “So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him” Genesis 6:22 (NLT).

Talk about faith and trust in God! Noah definitely had it. He faithfully brought his family aboard that massive arc that he built according to God’s instructions. We learn that Noah was on that boat for approximately 12-1/2 months before the land was dry and the floodwaters receded. Over a year he spent waiting for God to tell him it was time for him and his family to leave the boat.

My favorite part of Noah’s story is when God places a rainbow in the clouds as a sign of his covenant with Noah and with all the earth. God says, “When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth” Genesis 9:16 (NLT). To me, the rainbow is such a beautiful expression of God’s love for His people and it also serves as a beautiful expression of the importance God places on His promises to us.

Oh, if only I could be as obedient and as faithful as Noah! Yet, it is his story that serves as a reminder to me that when I place my faith and trust in God, I will be blessed by God.

The pain of rejection is real. It never feels good when someone tells us, “No.” But, it is so important to not let that “No” define us. Of course, I can feel sad and disappointed. I can question why they didn’t choose me and go over tons of reasons why they should have. But, it really has nothing to do with me. God has a plan. He had a plan for Noah. And he has a plan for me. I just need to remain faithful to God’s promises. Through this storm I must endure. If I can have patience and trust in God during the wait, then at the end I may look up to find a rainbow.

Heavenly Father, I am so thankful for the storms in my life. Without them, I do not change or grow. Thank you for the example that Noah shows us of the importance of walking with You. Help me to be obedient and faithful when you call me to be. Help me to not let the pain of rejection define who I am or keep me from becoming my best self – the person You desire me to be. My identity is in You and as long as I remember that I cannot get lost in the storm. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Patience in the Waiting

“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord” Psalm 27:14 (NLT).

These past few months have brought many changes in my life. As much as I acknowledge that change is good and necessary, I still do not tend to like it when I am going through change. Change requires that my routine be adjusted. Change requires my flexibility and my perseverance. It also requires patience in the midst of waiting.

Recently, I made the necessary decision to leave a job that I had worked at for only a few short months. The job was for an administrative support position at a finance company. Though I knew I had the skills required to do the job, I also knew that I lacked some of the experience, since I have no background in finance. However, they were willing to teach me, as long as I was up for the challenge. So, I decided to give it a try.

After a few short weeks of working there, I did not seem to be progressing at a rate that they felt I should be progressing at. There was frustration on both sides and I began to realize that this job was not serving their needs or my own. After much thought and prayer over it, I knew it was best that I move on to something else.

The day after I left that job, I went on my computer and decided to see if any job opportunities were available at an organization that I had wanted to work with for quite some time. Lo and behold, I stumbled across a job opening that was exactly the kind of work I had been looking to do there! Immediately, I forwarded my resume and cover letter. I waited for a little over a week with no phone call. I made the decision to call them to see if they had received my resume and if the position was still available. I was fortunate enough to be told it was, and equally as fortunate to get a phone interview. Within just a few short hours, I got a call back to come in for a face-to-face interview for later that week.

It has been a few days since the interview. I felt it went well and that I could definitely see myself working there. I was told that they would not be making any decisions for another week – maybe longer. So, here I am now – in the waiting.

Someone else who knew a lot about waiting was Mary, Jesus’ Mother. In Luke, Chapter 1, the angel Gabriel appears before Mary telling her, “Don’t be afraid…for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus” Luke 1:30 (NIV). Understandably, Mary responds, “But, how can this happen? I am a virgin” Luke 1:34 (NIV). The angel responds, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby will be born holy, and he will be called the Son of God” Luke 1:35a (NIV).

It is Mary’s response to the angel that is worth reflecting on. She says, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true” Luke 1:38 (NIV). This response is such an example of the complete faith and trust Mary had in God’s plans for her. She shows her confidence in God by willingly submitting to Him and faithfully following in His plans. In just a few short verses later, we see Mary sing a song of praise to God for the blessing of giving birth to the Son who would become Savior of the world!

Talk about a season of waiting! Mary waited to deliver the Son of God into the world. In order to do this, she needed faith, trust and patience. She was humble and obedient. She did not question God’s motives or His abilities; she simply followed and praised Him for the opportunity to serve Him.

Right now, it seems there is nothing I want more than this job. I have prayed and asked God to bless me with this opportunity and I have asked others to pray, as well. But, I do not know who else is being considered for the position. There might be someone with more experience or someone who has waited longer than me for the same opportunity. Either way, it is not in my hands. Therefore, I choose to put my confidence in God that no matter what the outcome is – it is His plan.

In the meantime, while I wait for an answer, I will press into His Word and remind myself of His perfect plans for me. As His Word says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5 (NIV). If the answer is no, I can trust that God has better plans for me. “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” Ephesians 3:20 (NLT). Reflecting on these truths is what gets me through the waiting. As long as I remember who God is and who I am in Him, it will all work out as it should.

Heavenly Father, Help me to remember that when I am in a season of waiting, I need only rest in the confidence and assurance of Your perfect plans for me. When I feel rejected, may I not let that rejection define me and may I place my identity in You and You alone. Thank You for the example that Mary shows, to us all, of the power in faithfulness and humility when following Your holy plans. May I always keep Mary in my heart when I am called to make the necessary adjustments in my life to accommodate the changes you have in store for me. I pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Math Anxiety

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” Ephesians 3:20 (NLT).

Math was always a subject I struggled with during my school-aged years. In High School I had tutoring, and even with the extra help I received, I still struggled and found it hard to earn any letter grade higher than a “C” on my report card. My Math instructor could repeat the method to solve a specific problem over and over to me, yet I still struggled with the concepts and with it all making sense in my mind.

Give me a paper to write, though and typically I can have a good first draft written in a few short hours. For some reason, the ability to convey my thoughts and ideas into words on a page comes so easily to me. It’s not that it is effortless, however; I do have to really understand my material – what it is that I am writing about.

In studying chapters 21 through 25 in the Book of Deuteronomy, God lays out many rules and principles for His people to follow. They are numerous and cover a wide variety of topics, such as: the rights of firstborn and rebellious sons; regulations on sexual purity; rules on how to live among the various camps that had been established; regulations on divorce; and also additional instructions on living in a dignified and honest manner.

Reading through these chapters, I found myself feeling both confused and overwhelmed with all of the specific and detailed guidelines that God lays out for His people. When I get to passages like these, it is easy for me to be tempted to just close my Bible and stop reading. Having not lived during Old Testament times, it is hard to relate to certain rituals and practices that were so common at that time.

To give a specific example, in Chapter 22, God gives His instruction on dealing with a rebellious son. He says, “Suppose a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or mother, even though they discipline him. In such case, the father and mother must take the son to the elders as they hold court at the town gate. The parents must say to the elders, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious and refuses to obey. He is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all of the men of his town must stone him to death. In this way, you will purge this evil from among you, and all Israel will hear about it and be afraid” Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (NLT).

Whoa! Now, I could name a few guys back in my college days who I could have described as “stubborn,” “rebellious” and “drunkards.” But, not once would I have considered them to have been deserving of being stoned to death! A passage like this, stops me, confounds me and makes me question what it is that God is trying to tell me. When this occurs, I need to stop and remind myself to trust in God and know that I don’t have all of the answers.

In the Old Testament, there are numerous examples of God trying to establish his rules and instructions for the Israelites to follow. Yet, time and time again His people disobey and disregard His authority. A key phrase in the above-referenced verse from Deuteronomy is “be afraid.” Throughout the Old Testament, God warns His people, through Moses, to be wary of the consequences for not following His instruction. An example is when God forbids Moses and Aaron from entering the Promised Land in the Book of Numbers, “But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!’” Numbers 20:12 (NLT).

God clearly shows us here that lack of obedience can, in turn, cause extreme consequences. We may ask ourselves why God allows certain things to happen or we may question His intentions; however, God also tells us of the importance in trusting His plans for us.

Navigating through God’s Word can be a lot like a solving a Math equation. It may take weeks, even months, to figure out the answer. However, unlike on a Math exam, God does not expect us to get the answer right. God reveals to us only what he wants to. “The Lord our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions” Deuteronomy 29:29 (NLT).

Knowing this, I can feel at ease when I am reading God’s Word and stumble across a passage that I do not understand or have a hard time interpreting. It doesn’t always have to make sense. I can trust that God will reveal to me what he wants me to learn. It takes trust on my part. I am fortunate to have a God that will take care of the rest.

Father God, thank You for the amazing ways Your Word teaches us to fear You and trust that You will not fail us. Help me to remember that Your plans for me are for good and not disaster. It is your never-ending faith and love for me that should always be forefront in my mind. Please help me to continually seek Your will first in my life. Thank you for the gift of Your Most Precious Son, Jesus and all that He has done in His sacrifice for us. Amen.

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A note to my readers: As many of you may have noticed, I have been posting less blog entries lately. That is due to the fact that I am working on writing my first book! I still plan on keeping up my blog, but will probably post once a month instead of weekly. My time in the Word has not changed. I still am reading one Chapter of the Bible each week. I plan to continue writing on how God’s Word speaks to me in my life. Thank you to all who take the time to read my blog entries and I hope they inspire you as much as the Word has inspired me!

Blessings, Jeanine

Grandma’s House

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” John 10:10 (NLT).

When my sister and I were young, we would spend many weekends at my Grandmother’s house. There were so many happy, fond memories of my time spent at Grandma’s. Whether it was listening to her many albums on the record player that she always happily let me play, or playing with the homemade play dough she would make, so I could create my own doughy masterpieces – Grandma always made her home a safe, enjoyable place where I was free to just… BE.

In the evening, before it was time to go to sleep, my Grandma would let my sister and I lay on her bed while she gently scratched our backs. She had such a tender, gentle touch and she would do this until we were practically asleep. I remember thinking to myself how tired her hands must’ve been getting, while secretly hoping she would not stop. Now, looking back, I think it was her sweet, loving way of letting us know it was getting time to go to bed. There were very few places in my childhood where I remembering feeling that secure, safe and loved.

In Deuteronomy, Chapters 16 through 20, Moses gives instruction on many laws God establishes to protect His people. Specifically, in Chapter 19, we learn about the “Cities of Refuge.” These are cities God establishes, in order to provide a place of protection to those accused of murder until they are able to be tried fairly for their crime. “Survey the territory, and divide the land the Lord your God is giving you into three districts, with one of these cities in each district. Then anyone who has killed someone can flee to one of the cities of refuge for safety” (Deuteronomy 19:3 (NLT).

During this time, it was not uncommon for a person to take revenge on another whom they believed committed murder. It was God’s intent to protect those accused of murder. In Joshua Chapter 20, God explains, “Anyone who kills another person accidentally and unintentionally can run to one of these cities; they will be places of refuge from relatives seeking revenge for the person who was killed” Joshua 20:3 (NLT).

This is a beautiful illustration of how much God cares about our protection. He provides a place of rest and of solitude to those who may be accused unfairly. However hard it might be for us to relate to this scenario in our own lives, we do have an accuser that we face every day. There is an enemy trying to use his power to turn our attention away from our protector – the One whom we should be running to when faced with a problem. That enemy is Satan. We should not be fooled at the power Satan has in our lives. Our only protection from Satan’s evil schemes is to turn to the only One who can protect us from them.

Just like my time spent with Grandma, I need to rest in God’s protection. When I feel wronged or treated unfairly, it is tempting to want to “attack” my accuser or to act out in some negative way. But, is this honoring God? In holding grudges, inciting blame, aren’t I doing exactly what the enemy wants?

My only protection is to rest in God. I can do this by praying, reading in the Word and worshipping Him. When I am faced with a situation where I feel mistreated or wronged, it is much easier to accept and let go of my feelings of anger and resentment, in order to come to a place of acceptance and forgiveness. That kind of power is something the enemy cannot destroy, because that kind of power comes from God. It also gives me a tremendous feeling of freedom, because I am not letting others dictate how I feel about myself.

I have noticed that the more time I spend in prayer and in reading the Word, I begin to feel that same kind of peace and security I felt resting with Grandma at bedtime. If I take the time to rest in Him, then I am protected and heard.

Heavenly Father, thank you for always making Yourself available and for providing a safe place for me to rest at any time I need it. Please help me to always seek comfort and rest in You and not from myself, others or the things of this world. Thank you for the wonderful blessing my Grandma was to me in my life. Let me never forget her example of love and how it mirrors the kind of love you always wish for me to have in my life. Help others to seek Your comfort and protection in their lives when they need to and help me to be a better example of Christ’s love in theirs. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen. 

Dirty Laundry

“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always” Psalm 105:4 (NIV).

Whether I’m at work or at the office, each day I am faced with a list of expectations. The list can seem endless, with so many things that need to get done that affect the people who depend on me each day. Some days the list is easier to tackle than others. The expectations that usually are the most difficult to manage; however, are the ones I put on myself.

On the days, when the list is longer than usual – those are the days that I need to find time with God the most. However, the challenge is to set aside the time to do so. I have found that in order to set aside that necessary time with God, I need to let go of something. Usually, that something is what I think is too important to let go of. Having control issues, maintaining order is something I constantly seek in my life.

But, if I look closely, there are always things that I can set aside and the earth will still revolve around its axis tomorrow. For instance, the laundry can wait. I love to have a nice empty laundry basket in my room each week. When the clothes start to tower over the lid, it’s enough to make me physically start to twitch. It’s messy. Disorganized. And I hate looking at it. However, if I have a packed day & spend that ½ hour or so I that I have free tackling that heap of dirty laundry, then I have subtracted time I could have spent with God that day.

Lessons on love, obedience, reverence and service to the Lord are interwoven throughout chapters 11 through 15 in the Book of Deuteronomy. Moses tells the Israelites, “Be careful to obey all these commands I am giving you. Show love to the Lord your God by walking in his ways and holding tightly to him” Deuteronomy 11:22 (NLT). If God’s people follow these commands, they are assured blessings. But, if they fail to obey they will be cursed (see Deuteronomy 11:26-28).

What does “walking in his ways” mean? As Moses points out in the very next chapter, it means that we are required to follow God’s ways – not the worlds. We can only follow His ways by worshipping Him for the many blessings He has provided for us. One of the best ways we can follow God is through reading His Word. The Bible is our only guide to how God intends for us to live. It links the past to the present. We can learn from the mistakes of those who came before us. And God wants us to know Him in this more intimate way, so our hearts grow closer to Him.

Chapter 13 warns us against following the ways of the world. As Moses says, “Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him” Deuteronomy 13:4 (NLT).

When so many distractions are coming at us, it is so easy to forget this. However, when I allow myself to stop and slow down long enough to spend time in God’s Word – the noise is immediately silenced. It is a relief that brings much clarity and strength to my life, allowing me to see things a bit more clearly than I did before.

It also makes it easier to let go of my own “dirty laundry.” So, many things in this world distract us from paying attention to what God wants us to learn. The more we give in to those distractions, the farther we place ourselves from Him and the harder it is to hear what He is trying to teach us.

I can’t help but notice that when I start to fill my day with little chores tucked in between my work, the errands, getting dinner on the table for my family, etc. – then it becomes harder to focus, to smile, to breathe. Physically, I don’t feel like myself. Then, I can find myself snapping at someone I love when they ask me a simple question. And ironically, piling on the added chore to my list that day ends up leaving me feeling quite out of control, which is what I wanted to avoid feeling in the first place.

The only thing, I have learned, that adds peace and sanity to my day, is spending time with God. That, for me, is reading his Word and spending time in prayer. It makes me feel solid – grounded to the floor, if you will – versus feeling shaky and like I’m spinning out of control. In other words, the laundry can wait.

Father God, protect me from the unrealistic expectations of others and from the unrealistic expectations I put on myself. Help me to seek you first and foremost each day. Forgive me for the times when I forget that I need to seek Your face always. Thank You for the loving reminder of how important it is to “cling” to You. What a blessing it is that You are always available and willing to nurture, help and correct me when I need it. Praise to You for giving me redemption and grace through the cross. It is in Your Son, Jesus’ Most Precious Name, I pray. Amen.

It’s A Comfortable Life

“But when you had eaten and were satisfied, you became proud and forgot me” Hosea 13:6 (NLT).

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you thought to yourself, “Once I get blank [enter desired wish here], then I’ll be content?” And then, have you noticed, once you get that certain something that you’ve desired, suddenly it’s not completely satisfying you the way you thought it would?

Case in point – currently, we’ve begun to do some changes to our home. We’ve lived in the same home for the past eleven years. Everything in it is pretty much what we’ve had, since we moved in. A few years ago, we painted the exterior. Now, we are focusing more on the interior. We decided to focus on a room at a time and slowly go from there. Since, we do a lot of entertaining around the holidays we decided to make updates to our living room and dining room.

Painting and making decisions on décor sounded not too overwhelming in the beginning. However, due to the size of both rooms, we found ourselves pretty restricted with what size furniture we could fit comfortably in them. I had no idea it would take 2 months, spending a good part of our weekends shopping at furniture stores to find the right size couch, side chairs and dining room tables to work in the rooms. Also, there was deciding on paint colors, and also blinds for our big picture window in the living room. We started the process over the summer and everything is now almost complete – other than waiting on the new couch to be delivered.

During the process, I remember little “disagreements” (as we like to call them while our eight year old happens to be in ear shot) between my husband and myself occurring over paint colors, furniture styles, size requirements – P.S. I highly recommend painters tape and a tape ruler when you’re deciding on whether or not a piece of furniture will fit adequately in your space. Not to mention, the stress of making decisions on what fits in the budget and what does not. It definitely tests your strength in a marriage.

What I thought in the beginning was going to be a fun and satisfying process, turned out to cause me more stress, headache and anxiety over making the right decisions.

In Deuteronomy Chapters 6 though 10, God calls His people to remember the mistakes of their ancestors. It is a plea, if you will, from Moses urging the new generation to remember God’s faithfulness in the past and to not take it for granted. Moses warns the new generation, “Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today” Deuteronomy 8:11b (NLT).

The people of Israel complained to God about not having enough food to eat and water to drink during their journey in the wilderness to the Promised Land (see Numbers Chapter 21:4-5), even though God had provided both water and manna (a supply of food provided by God during that time) to them. God provided what they needed, yet the people complained that it just wasn’t enough.

How often does God provide for me in my own life and I don’t even recognize it? Sometimes, like when I’m redecorating my home, I get so wrapped up in the details and in trying to make everything come together just so, that I miss out on enjoying the fact that I am able to do it in the first place. How often do I stop and thank God for His provision in it?

So often God provides for us and so often we miss it, because we are too wrapped up in our own agenda to stop and praise him for His blessings. Sadly, we leave God out of it all together. Even when I’m not deserving of it, He still provides.

These chapters are a reminder to all of us to not forget God. Moses urges the new generation throughout these chapters of that most important fact. Even in the smaller things, like redecorating a home, God has His hand in it. If it were not for the many blessings that He has provided to me and my family, we would not be able to afford such luxuries.

I have to say, even though we are still waiting on our couch to be delivered, having my family sitting around our dining room table at Thanksgiving made me feel so grateful. At the end of the evening, it really wasn’t the furniture we all sat on that brought us contentment, it was the love surrounding us and the joy it brings that mattered most.

Dear Heavenly Father, You are such a provider for me in my life, even when I don’t deserve it. Thank You for the gift of having a home and the ability to make renovations in order to improve it. We are so fortunate to live where we live and own what we own. I ask Your Spirit to do a work in me and make me less prideful over the gifts that I possess through You. Help me to always acknowledge you first and to not take for granted the “plenty” in my life. Bless those in the world who are without and let the light of Your love shine brightly in their hearts this holiday season. I ask this in Your Son Jesus’ Most Precious Name, Amen.

Living Less Rushed

“No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety” Psalm 16:9 (NLT).

In my life I have been prone to rush. When I was in my mid-twenties, I juggled working full time and raising my daughter on my own. Most mornings, it was not an uncommon practice for me to hit the snooze button on my alarm several times before finally rising out of bed. Once I did manage to shower, dress myself and get my daughter breakfast, it was then a mad dash to see her off on the school bus and head in my car to work.

Once I made it in the car, it was also not uncommon for me to have my cup of Yoplait yogurt and spoon in hand to eat while I was waiting at stop lights. Then work began and at the end of the day, it was a mad dash to pick up my daughter from after school care, head home and get dinner on the table, so we could eat at a reasonable hour.

This pace often led to exhaustion by the end of the day. Many nights, after my daughter went to bed, I could be found sprawled out on the couch, half-asleep in front of my television.

Nowadays, I am married and life is more balanced. However, the tendency to rush is something that does creep up from time to time. For me, it usually happens when I have too many things on my to-do list. I have learned that the longer my list becomes, the more unraveled l become.

Looking closely at Deuteronomy Chapter 4, Moses urges the new generation to be careful in obeying God’s commands for them. He tells them, “Do not add to or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you” Deuteronomy 4:2 (NLT).

Here, Moses uses the terms “add” and “subtract” to emphasize the importance of following God’s Word exactly. He wants the new generation to understand that God’s Word is perfect and does not need to be changed. We see here how important it is for us to live our lives according to God’s Word. So many times we may be tempted to change the rules to suit our own needs or to simply ignore the rules all together. This is not the way God intended for us. He wants us to trust His way, because it is perfect.

Moses goes a step further to warn the new generation of being careful to not create any idols in their lives. Here, the people are warned to not put anyone or anything before God. “So be careful not to break the covenant the Lord your God has made with you. Do not make idols of any shape or form, for the Lord your God has forbidden this” Deuteronomy 4:23 (NLT).

An idol can be anyone or anything. This makes me stop and reflect on what some of the “idols” are in my own life. Always having the need to be busy is definitely one at the top of the list. Often busyness leads to rushing – and from my own experience, rushing leads to burnout. If I have nothing left at the end of my day, then there isn’t a lot of time for me to spend it with God.

There are things I can do to be better in this area. I can give God some of my time. I’ve made it a practice to read from a devotional in the morning and also to read at least one chapter from the Bible later in the day. Making time in the Word has been such a blessing in my life. It gives me the direction and the assurance I need to face the battles I have to each day. Without it, I am relying on myself to navigate through life and eliminating God from it.

Spending time in prayer is also important. My prayer time is sporadic. That is something I’m constantly tweaking and working on these days. I’m not perfect at it, but there has been improvement. I have found prayer to be so beneficial. It is the only way to communicate with God and it is a necessary practice to thank Him for the blessings I receive everyday and to also present my requests to Him.

There is also using the word, “no.” As much as I would like to volunteer for every activity at my son’s school, it just is not realistic. Something has to give, and if I overload my schedule it will eventually be me. So, I have to pick and choose what’s important. Is what I want to add to my list honoring God? If I’m not sure, then I need to pray about it.

When I put these things into practice in my life, then it is much easier to navigate through it. Not only am I happier, but so are the people around me. Life becomes a lot less rushed and I am able to grow closer in my relationship to God – the only “Idol” I should have.

Dear Lord, thank You for the reminder of the importance of putting You first on the priority list. Forgive me for the times when I let the busyness of life get the better of me. Help me to shift my focus to You when I am distracted or in need of Your direction. Now that we are approaching the holidays, help me to stop and enjoy the time I have with my loved ones rather than rushing through it and missing out. I ask this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.