When I was young, my father used to frequently say to me “Life is hard. Life isn’t fair. The sooner you realize that the better off you’ll be.” The older I became, the more those words seemed to ring true. Especially during my years as a single mother. Life then was typically exhausting most days and full of responsibilities on a very long to-do list: caring for my child, my home, job and somehow finding the time for myself in all the chaos.
Back then, I rushed. A-lot. I was so used to go-go-going that I rarely allowed myself much quiet time. When I did have free time, most of it was spent doing fun things with my daughter, spending quality time together. Not there was anything wrong in doing that, but I think I over-did it a bit, because I felt guilty that I worked full time and we only had a few precious hours together most evenings.
Not surprisingly, when my precious girl was tucked in bed for the night and the house was quiet, I could usually be found sprawled out on my couch, falling asleep to whatever show I had on the television. My body was empty and drained from all the running around all the time. I can’t say that life for me back then was boring or not challenging, but I also can’t say that it was fulfilling.
During my Bible study time spent reading in Exodus, Chapters 21 through 25 this week, God expands on His law given in the Ten Commandments. It was an eye-opening reminder, for me, of God’s extreme mercy and love that He has for all of us. When reading God’s commandments, we learn of God’s views on slavery, capital punishment, theft, and social responsibility. Back then, slavery was common. It also wasn’t unusual for people guilty of crime to be treated in very cruel and barbaric ways. God saw that there needed to be a set of rules and guidelines for people to live by, in order for them to live a life free from sin and suffering. That is the life that God intends for all of us.
Sounds good, right? But, do you find yourselves asking how that should apply to our own lives? Well, in Chapter 23 we read about three festivals that God creates to honor Him by. These festivals or “feasts” were designed to be a way for the Israelite’s to worship and give thanks to God. God knew that if He didn’t set time aside for the people to worship Him that they would be in danger of straying away from Him. God also blesses the people with “an angel” sent to protect them and lead them safely (See Exodus 23:20). How gracious is our God! I believe, we have that same angel guiding and protecting us. It is the Holy Spirit. I do recognize in my own life that when I am faced with not knowing what direction to go in or who to turn to when I need answers, that I can call upon the Holy Spirit for help. But, I also realize that I have to ask. I have to recognize that my problems and this world can be much bigger than me. It means putting my priorities aside to spend time in prayer and worship. It means crossing off a few things on my to-do list in order to just be quiet and in prayer with God.
Thankfully, God has blessed me with a supportive and loving husband to help manage all of those responsibilities that I used to shoulder all by myself. He has blessed me with two beautiful children and a job that helps provide for them, as well. He has blessed me with a healthy body, so I have the energy and can do all of the things that I need to get done each week. And He has given me the ultimate sacrifice, His Son, Jesus to help remind me of the debt He paid for all of us on the cross.
Is life hard? Yes. Is it not fair at times? Yes. Can we rise above it? Can we live a happy, content life? The answer is still yes. We just have to know who to turn to and who to call on during those times. It requires being quiet with God and listening to Him.
God, please help me cross off the things on my to-do list that can really wait. Please help me to call upon the Holy Spirit when I just don’t know what direction to go in. And help me to remember how blessed I am to have all of the wonderful gifts that You have given me in my life, especially the gift of your Son, Jesus. Amen.
“For I know the plans I have for you, “says the Lord.” They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)