CC Photo Credit: Josh James
But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously— take God seriously. Micah 6:8 (MSG)
Follow the Instructions
I spent yesterday frustrated. I was installing closet shelves, converting an unused bedroom into a walk-in closet. I purchased the “kit” so it would be “easy”. I did consult the instructions but felt some of the details were missing. I was certain the manufacturer wanted me to locate the studs even though the screw/nails provided in the kit weren’t long enough to reach the studs. As I sized up my kit, in my estimation, the mounting brackets needed some modification.
I did what I thought was best. I struggled. I hurt myself a couple of times. I made a few trips to the basement to get longer screws, better mountings and more tools than the instructions indicated were necessary. After an hour, a lot of sweat and some pain, I had many holes of various sizes in the wall and no working shelf. I was grumpy with the thoughts of abandoning my project swirling in my head.
I took a break and got over my frustration. I decided to look at the quarter sheet of instructions a second time. Humm. This time the once obscure instructions made sense. I wasn’t supposed to use the studs. For shelf #2, I decided simply following the simple instructions might work. To my delight, shelves 2-4 installed quickly and easily; in less time and with more ease than the first.
As I struggled and then completed my project, I thought of the verse in Micah. It was no coincidence I read this passage right before starting this project; I’m sure God spent the day chuckling as He watched me struggle with the shelves. There was a lesson to be learned and as my struggling turned to ease, I got the message.
You may be more familiar with this translation of the verse in Micah 6:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (NIV)
I like the paraphrase in The Message. It’s great advice to start the New Year.
Taking God Seriously
The first posts of this year have (I hope) convinced you that God loves YOU with an immeasurable love. God went to great lengths to make His love evident and obvious. His plan is simple. Perhaps that is why it seems so difficult to carry out.
Have you tried to modify God’s simple plan for living and found yourself tired, frustrated, pained and ready to abandon the life of following God’s plan? Have you tried to tweak the simple message of the gospel to make it fit your notion of “how things should be”? Has asking others how you should live consumed your time and energy, leaving you worn out and bewildered? Have you decided that maybe this whole Christian “thing” is a bunch of rules and hypocrisy? After a lot of work and effort, are there many holes in your wall and no working shelf?
How do you take God seriously while taking yourself less seriously? Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God; what does that even look like? For the rest of this month, that will be the topic. It’s a profoundly simple way of living; so simple it seems to need some modification to be practical.
Let this New Year bring a new approach to taking God seriously. Join me and look at God’s simple plan for a full life.
Father, thank you for Your love. Thank you for a clear and sensible plan for living. Open my eyes and heart to the message of your love and grace. Help me understand Your simple instructions.