Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Deuteronomy Project

I come from a long line of worriers; it's in my blood. I take Tylenol PM each night to help me sleep, because otherwise my mind races and I can't relax for thinking about all the things I didn't' get done today and need to do tomorrow. My mom is a top notch worrywart, and I learned my skills at her knee. She often sleeps with the television on all night long just for the sound to drown out her own thoughts. My Grandma Valley was a premiere worrier as well, and unfortunately, I think I'm passing this trait on to my two girls.

There are so many passages in the Bible about not worrying, and every time I read one of them, I try to soak it into my soul, and I regularly pray about my worries.Luke 12:24-26 says: Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life. Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? One of my favorites is 1 Peter 5:7: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. I tend cast each worry on God's altar, and then as soon as I say Amen I take them right back and start worrying again.

But I've had two experiences with God's grace in the last few weeks that are changing my heart. Two weeks ago, I heard something that someone had said that hurt me deeply. It was completely devastating, and there wasn't much I could do about it. I talked to Jesse about it, and he felt like I did. I was an emotional wreck; I felt betrayed and hurt and angry and I couldn't stop crying. The verse from 1 Peter came to mind, and I gave the situation up to God. There wasn't a single thing I could do to effect it, except to possibly make it worse by jumping the gun. So I prayed and asked God to do His will. Very shortly after, I received an email and discovered that the entire situation had been misinterpreted. There was no need for hurt, and in fact, it brought Jesse and I and the others closer. I could see God's fingerprints all over the outcome.

It happened again on Saturday. I had trouble with my van this summer, so we ended up filling the radiator with water and no antifreeze. I knew that I needed to get some antifreeze in it soon, but it kept slipping my (and Jesse's) mind. Saturday morning was bitterly cold, around 12 degrees. Mia had ballet lessons at 8:30 am, so we were out the door at 8:15. A few miles before Oconto Falls, I noticed the Check Gauges light was on, and when I checked, the temperature gauge was buried in the red, and my forgetful mind went into a full blown panic. I turned the van around to try and make it home and called Jesse who was on his way to his Economics class. He told me to pull over and stop driving it. We were both a bit emotional, to put it politely. He couldn't come to help me, because this was his last class, and if he missed it, he would fail. When I stopped the van, steam was rolling out of the hood, and the engine was making an awful squealing and banging noise. Mia and I were both in tears. I called my mom, and she came and picked us up after I pulled the van ahead a few yards into the driveway of a business where it could sit. I was angry with Jesse and myself, but when he called back to tell me of all of the possible outcomes (radiator cracked, engine blown, radiator, destroyed), I was so upset. I love my van! Even though it's a gas guzzler, I don't know what I would do without it. The memory of trusting God a few weeks ago came to mind (thank you again Holy Spirit), so I gave it up to Him again. I couldn't do anything to fix it at the moment, and I needed to surrender my anger as well. I turned it over to the Lord and waited for Jesse to get done with class to discover the outcome. He poured in a bunch of antifreeze and water and let it sit for awhile, and amazingly, nothing leaked out. He drove it home shortly after, and I've used it every day since with not an ounce of trouble. That's absolutely a God thing, and while I am immensely grateful for Him making sure I hadn't destroyed my van, I appreciate even more the peace of mind He gave me while I waited for news.

I'm a bit of a control freak (my family is laughing hysterically at the "a bit" part right now), so it's hard for me to turn things over to anyone, even God. So far I'm managing best with situations that I can't do anything about, but I'm going to be working on the other stuff too. Like Christmas shopping, Christmas cards, Doogie's senior pictures, college, etc. I'm getting there!

The Deuteronomy Project by Richard B. Couser is an excellent indepth look at why the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy still matters to Christians today. The book is presented as a series of conversations between a retired pastor and a younger lawyer who is interested in how Deuteronomy is relevant. And that's a great question. I've read Deuteronomy three times, and some of the laws and songs seemed irrelevant to Christians today. But Couser writes about them in a way that ties them in to the New Testament, American laws today, and Christian life. He defines the subjects that matter most to God and how He wanted His followers to live. Each chapter covers a chapter in Deuteronomy and reproduces its text in entirety. For me, it really helped me understand just why God laid down certain rules, as well as what they mean to me today thousands of years later. His laws are still vital and true. Couser gives great insight into Moses and the Hebrew people as well. This is an excellent Bible study written in an accessible manner, perfect for groups or solo study.

I received today's pic in an email, so you may have seen it before. I love the expression on the dog's face. I hope I pray that earnestly!