August 16th, 2016 § Leave a Comment
So when I set out to observe the Sabbath, I discovered that the hardest thing to do was cease from all work. I thought, “Wait a minute. What’s going on? I’ve always enjoyed an excuse to take the afternoon off. This isn’t like me.” I’ve never been an overachiever, a teacher’s pet. In fact, if there was a shortcut to be found, I was your man. The apparent incongruity had my attention.
One day, someone said these words, “I work to save myself.” Ding. Ding. Ding. Bingo. That’s it. Everything from the feverish work on the basketball court to running myself into the ground during those uncertain years of my fledgling career, I have always worked to save myself. The connection to the next part of our conversation was a good deal more immediate.
If I work to save myself, that for which I work is then my savior. My god. As I looked back to the desperate person that I’ve been throughout most of my life, I saw a path strewn with idols. I have always been an idolator.
Around this time, it struck me that the Ten Commandments does not begin with a command. Exodus 20 begins, “God spoke all these words, saying, ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery’ …” Then to command one: “You shall have no other gods before me.”
Idolatry is so bad not only because I am trusting in a false god, which is itself plenty bad, but because there is a true God — a God who loves me. Lived for me and died to save me. Idolatry is not only the turning to that which is false, but turning away from him who is true. There’s betrayal at the heart of idolatry. It’s not just the sleeping around, it’s the leaving of a faithful, loving wife to go slide into bed with a lover.
August 1st, 2016 § Leave a Comment
I work to save myself.
So, what I found interesting was this: When told I wasn’t to do anything, the thing I most wanted to do was work. “Wanted” isn’t the right word. I felt most uneasy about not being able to work. It was the itch that begged to be scratched.
Once I had sufficiently experienced this oddity, the next piece was shown me.
In a conversation with a person who was at the time assigned to me as a professional mentor, this guy said something that made my compulsion with work less of an oddity than I’d initially surmised. Speaking of himself, he said, “I work to save myself.”
Instantly, the statement took me back to the basketball court in my backyard. As a thirteen year old, I spent hours upon hours on that court. Working. Working. Working to get better at something that I wasn’t good enough at. To be better. Better.
I remember coming in through the sliding glass door one night, drenched in sweat. My Dad was at the door. He asked, “What were you doing back there?” Not that he couldn’t see what I was doing. It was the right question. Indeed, what was I doing back there? To his keen eye, he saw me cross over from good hard work to something else. It must have looked strange to him to see me frantically playing against someone who wasn’t there. Chasing something, neither one of us could see.
I wonder what he would’ve said if I had told me, “I was out there trying to save myself Dad.” I get the feeling he would’ve known what I was talking about.
“… In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it …” Isaiah 30:15