Today’s Readings: Leviticus 7, Psalms 7-8, Proverbs 22, 1 Thessalonians 1
Once again, as I prepared for today’s bible reflection I was determined to write something about Leviticus. Just as when we were reading Exodus, I’m sort of yearning to connect those ancient stories with my everyday life. So, as I slogged through Leviticus 7 and read some commentary from my study bible I was pretty sure that I could apply that lesson of discipline, sacrifice and commitment to the Lord. Then on my way to 1 Thessalonians, I was literally taken down by Proverbs 22. I’ve had a “flat tire” outside 22 Proverbs Street all week! When you look at today’s scriptures collectively, they intersect in one important place; they tell us how we ought to live. Leviticus 7 teaches us about obedience and sacrifice, Psalms 7 and 8 engage us in taking refuge in the Lord and praising Him for his faithfulness, but then we arrive at Proverbs 22. Proverbs 22 give us as Christians direct instructions for how to live.
Proverbs was written by Solomon, David’s son. The original audience is the Israelites but today it’s you and me. Proverbs covers a wide range of topics including: youth and discipline, family life, self control and resisting temptation, knowing God, how to run your business, wealth and poverty, immorality and wisdom. I got that short list from the NIV study bible, I didn’t make it up! When you read through that list are you as excited as I am about reading Proverbs? One of the many gifts of writing for Bible Journal is discovering the absolute power and (forgive my dramatics) majesty of this book. How often have I sat alone wondering what to do in a certain situation when the answers are right here for us in Proverbs.
Yesterday I was driving my 5-year-old son Oliver to a birthday party. Good old Siri took Ollie and I to his friend Eli’s house in a way we hadn’t been before. She told us to take a left onto Country Club Drive. The speed limit dropped to 15 miles per hour as I inched our small car over big speed humps. Despite living here for years, this was a road we’d never been down before. We stared in wonder at enormous mansions. Both of us were awe struck with this very physical manifestation of wealth and power. I must admit I took an immediate mental detour to a review of our personal finances. I compared our worth to the size and shape of our meager rental home, and then I heard from the back seat, “Mommy, let’s buy one of these houses.”
HELLO…it’s me…Proverbs 22.
“Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all” Proverbs 22:2.
There I was caught up in lust and greed and a big dose of false idols. I took a breath and said a quick prayer. Lord, help me…help me to raise this child in a world that values plastic toys and screens and the money that buys them. Lord, help me to see the security we have in you and show that to my 5 year old son.
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6
And so I said to him, “Wouldn’t it be fun to live in one of those houses? If we did we would have so much space, we’d have to invite our friends to live there with us! Having a big house isn’t the happy part, it’s sharing it with the people you love.” It was quiet in the backseat for a long minute and then,
“Mommy, maybe someday when we buy our own house and we paint the rooms the colors we want and we get a dog, maybe then we can get a balcony.”
“A balcony buddy, why, what would you do on a balcony?”
“You know, a balcony in our back yard with a grill for hot dogs so you can see us on the playground.”
My son wants a deck. A deck so that he can invite other children to his house for hot dogs and play on a swing set. You see, when we moved to Normal we were only planning to stay for 2 years. We weren’t planning for 3 kids with medical issues. We rented a house much bigger than we thought we needed in 2010 so that we could invite people over, so that people could stay and be here with us. We’re familial people. The front door might as well be one of those circular revolving doors they have at the mall. Our meager and very beige rental home is often messy, cluttered and definitely far from the beautifully appointed crown moulding I had planned for us. Instead, we are blessed beyond measure. We have enough to share. We have received a level of generosity we never could have imagined. We have been blessed by checks from friends and strangers when the medical bills have been too much to bear. We have literally received meals at our door when there wasn’t much money left for groceries. All provided by Him.
At the end of our readings today, Paul and Timothy (and a guy named Silvanus that I don’t quite know) write to the Thessalonians:
“We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 2-3
When you get up today to go to work or labor in love raising your precious children, hold steadfast to that hope. That hope is very real, it’s as tangible as a country club house. When you look out your car window, remind yourself that it is not the thing you long for but the person within. Whether rich or poor, we were all made by Him. “The generous themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.” (Proverbs 22:9). Share your gifts, they come from God and he wants us to be in fellowship with one another. As I sit in my beige office, the sun is rising, my children are awake and calling for morning hugs diaper changes. I am rich in His love in my own little country house.