When I first started trying to read the Bible, I skipped all the sections that were boring, had names which were dumb or un-pronounceable, or talked about stuff that seemed crazy. So, you know, that rendered me pretty much reading Proverbs (they’re pithy) and most of the New Testament – other than the part where Paul said something asinine about women not being able to teach in the church.
But then I thought perhaps I was being a little shallow and/or narrow-minded so I tried harder.
Shockingly, the Bible is an unbelievable narrative that I now can’t stop reading. Deuteronomy (DO-TUR-ON-O-MEE), the fifth book in “the Pentateuch,” is mostly a poem, actually. Poems might be one of my favorite writing styles -just don’t tell anyone because they’ll assume I’m sappy. Which, I am definitely not.
The devotional below is one I wrote a few months ago that popped into my email yesterday, reminding me that we’re all gonna cross over into a new land someday. And I can’t tell you how happy I will be when that happens…because the leaves in our yard from the Fall(!) are out of control. While Paul might have had me in my place raking them in an apron or overalls or whatever – my husband is much more in tune with my post-modern-self and wisely tackled it himself.
“For the land that you are about to enter to occupy is not like the land of Egypt from which you have come, where you sow your seed and irrigate by foot like a vegetable garden. But that land that you are crossing over to occupy is a land of hills and valleys, watered by rain from the sky.” –Deuteronomy 11:10-11 (Full text, Deuteronomy 11:1-17).
The Israelites had been living in Egypt as slaves, but it wasn’t necessarily the hard work that was so unbearable. Work may be physically and mentally taxing, but that does not make it wrong. What made the situation in Egypt unbearable was the extreme harshness of the slavery; the Egyptian masters worked the Israelites “ruthlessly” (Exod. 1:13, 14) and made their lives “bitter.” As a result, Israel languished in “misery” and “suffering” and a “broken spirit” (Exod. 6:9). Work was turned into a misery by the harshness of oppression.
And so God is assuring His people that the land that they are about to occupy is nothing like that! They are moving from a place of pure oppression to a place of pure freedom. In Egypt, the only production of a crop they had was from their own efforts. But here – in the Promise Land – the crops are abundant because of the blessings of God upon them.
Egypt was a desert land that had to be artificially watered; the land of promise is a land that God Himself waters. A gift. A green fertile land. One of hope, prosperity, and one where they could live peacefully, no longer finding themselves enslaved.
That said, as the Promise Land’s fertility depended on rain from heaven, the Israelites would not only be under greater obligation to observe the commands of God, but to learn to depend on Him wholeheartedly. Isn’t that the hard part? Relinquishing ALL control in order to have total freedom?
What areas of your life are dying because you’re clinging too tightly instead of giving it over to the Master Waterer so it may instead bloom fully?
Dear Lord, may we depend on you for everything instead of going it ourselves. May we no longer unnecessarily enslave ourselves to our own ways, but rather, live in the freedom of your unending love. Amen.