“I am the LORD your God…Who leads you in the way you should go. O that you had hearkened to My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea!” (Isaiah 48:18)
The Lord gives us lots of great suggestions on how we should live this gift of life He has bestowed on us. Oh wait; did I say “suggestions”? Well, that’s often how I take His commandments. I mean, some of them are great ideas, but often I trust my own opinions more that those “suggestions” from God.
We can take a look at most any “suggestion” from God and see the results of not following His ways. The issue of gluttony comes to mind, since that is one that I seem, by my actions, to know better than God. The Scriptures are pretty clear about avoiding gluttony. But, when I decide that I would rather listen to my own guidance, what happens? Well, I don’t sleep very well because my stomach is extended beyond belief and I try most of the night to find peace in the midst of gurgling. I hate it when that happens. And yet, like the dumb dog licking the hot stove twice, I keep repeating my over-eating. Do I really expect a different result? Isn’t that the definition of insanity?
If we want our bodies and minds to operate well, it would make sense to follow His instructions. The big problem for most of us is that it is a whole lot more fun to do what we want, when we want, and how ever we want to do it. It is pleasurable at the moment to over-eat, over-drink, to gossip, to get angry, to lie, to cheat, to steal, to cuss, to … the list seems endless. These may even feel good at the moment, but later we regret them.
The promise from God is that if we implement His commandments (not suggestions) into our lives, we will experience this incredible peace (like a river flowing through us) and that we will be righteous in His eyes (becoming men and women of God). Is it any wonder that the enemy of our souls is constantly whispering in our ears “suggestions” that we do what we want to do because it will feel good and bring us pleasure? Is this really what we want to do with our lives?
In all honesty, this is no laughing matter. This verse from our reading in Proverbs 19 today indicate its seriousness: “He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is carelessof his ways will die.” This is not about some legalistic keeping of God’s commandments because we want to appease an angry god (that is a serious false doctrine!). Rather, it is about developing a life-style that is in line with God’s ways, because His ways are truly the best way for us to live. When we decide that we should be “lord” of our own lives, we open ourselves up to a world of hurt.
Today is a good day to implement some of the commandments of God into our life style. When we try even a little, our loving God is there to help us and give us strength. Who knows? Maybe tonight I will go to bed with a stomach that is a little hungry rather than over-extended and the result will be a peaceful night of rest.
Journeying with you to the empty tomb of Christ…Fr. Stephen