On Sunday night, I was about seven days behind in my Bible reading plan and trying to catch up, but also trying to slow down in case God might show me something that I was really struggling to see in Numbers (I think I'm in Numbers, at least). I was agitated. The truth is that I've been reading the Old Testament at the beginning of almost every year for I don't even want to admit to how many years. The desperation for the New Testament should have been enough to get me to August or September, but no. My life is a blur: the kind of blur produced by a thrilling, yet frightening and sometimes sickening, roller coaster ride that you feel pressured to stand in line for but that you are kind of glad you did stand in line for when the adrenaline is running through you at the end. Is that dramatic? :)
Again, I was agitated. It's difficult to like God when all you read are the first few books of the Bible over and over each year. Genesis is like magic for me, but then so much of it feels really questionable from there besides a bit of poetry that I can cherry-pick along the way, excellent scenery, and the thought of Moses's face sparkling. I was thinking about this Old Testament stuff the other day, wondering if I'll read through the entire Bible again after I finally get through it once. The thought of it reminded me of deep cleaning and how I despise the idea that I will have to do the same task over and over for the rest of my life because it keeps getting undone. Stupid memory.
I think I'm supposed to believe that the Bible is not like my kitchen floor, though. Unlike my kitchen floor, the Bible can be new each time I open it. Of course, someone somewhere might argue that their kitchen floor is new each time, too, and if that makes a person feel better, then so be it.
The point is that the Bible has been new to me this year (even though I had completely forgotten until just now when I wrote that)... like when I was reading in Exodus about Pharaoh enslaving God's people and working them harder, expecting them to do more with less and then calling them lazy whenever they cried out that the work was too much to bear. I was reading this story and obsessing over the familiarity of it all: "do more with less!" In education, and I'm sure all throughout the workplaces of this nation, this phrase plays on like the broken record. I used to think it was something to be proud of, and I'd challenge myself to see if I could pull it off: this more with less trick. These days, I'm feeling more and more that I am one with the Israelites: exhausted and unable to meet my quota.
I didn't realize this is what I would be writing about, but sure!... because I do have something really important to share about this Exodus story. When I was able to see the pages differently, I realized that the word "lazy" had been tumbling around in my heart and mind for some time. I have a list at work that seems to grow longer each day no matter how much I give, and I bet you do too. I keep telling myself that I am going to come in one day and blow that list up, knock it out of the park, demolish it, completely obliterate it and take back my work day for the dreams I've always dreamed my job would be. The reality, however, is that the list always wins. At some point, I became overwhelmed by the list and started listening to the quiet whisper inside saying, lazy. I'm clearly too slow. Too distracted. Too average. A foolish waster of energy and time. Lazy.
Pharaoh was wrong about the Israelites, though, and God had a different plan for them: a plan for them to work hard, building and refining his temple, but also for them to worship. God did not design His people to be slaves; He designed them to be free to work and worship, as if work and worship were one in the same. So, he delivered them from Egypt! Do you know what this means for us as children of this God of the Old Testament? Well, I'm not entirely sure, but I'll admit that when I was putting all of this together in my mind, there was this sweet sense of intimacy that I experienced when I thought I could hear Him saying, I will deliver you from slavery. He actually wants to.
I fully believe I am doing the work God has designed me to do, but I also believe that I am blindly working for Pharaoh at times: when I call myself lazy, when I allow perfectionism to destroy my self-confidence, when I am so focused on production and quotas that I refuse to worship with my work, and when I am too afraid or overwhelmed to take time off and rest. I think you know exactly what I mean. We don't need to get out of Egypt, necessarily; we need to start working for the One who makes our souls come alive, instead.
I told Eric that reading the Old Testament made it difficult for me to like God. He told me that I should take a break from it for a bit, so I did. I wrote this, and then I saw this small thread of continuity between Father and Son, and my heart felt light again.
|Every blog needs a picture, so here's a picture of a lizard slave who lives at the college where I teach. He actually escaped shortly after this picture was taken :) only to be captured again.|