THURSDAY OF THE THIRD WEEK OF LENT
READ: JEREMIAH 7:23-28
Thus says the LORD: This is what I commanded my people: Listen to my voice; then I will be your God and you shall be my people. Walk in all the ways that I command you, so that you may prosper. But they obeyed not, nor did they pay heed. They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts and turned their backs, not their faces, to me. From the day that your fathers left the land of Egypt even to this day, I have sent you untiringly all my servants the prophets. Yet they have not obeyed me nor paid heed; they have stiffened their necks and done worse than their fathers. When you speak all these words to them, they will not listen to you either; when you call to them, they will not answer you. Say to them: This is the nation that does not listen to the voice of the LORD, its God, or take correction. Faithfulness has disappeared; the word itself is banished from their speech.
There is an amazing website called "Reasons my Son is Crying". In the blog, parents submit the hilariously illogical reasons why their toddler is crying. Usually in response to simple requests like, "stand up", or "don't eat that". Today we get a profound insight into the reason behind God's commands, and the reality that sometimes we respond to him like toddlers.
In our reading, the Lord is speaking to the prophet Jeremiah, who encounters nothing but denial on his mission to remind the people of God of the covenant they had made.
One line in particular stands out, "walk in all the ways that I command you, so that you may prosper". Although simple, the line reveals so much about God's purpose for us, and his ultimate plan. God's commands are not arbitrary. They are not a set of hoops to jump through so that we might earn his affection. They are boundaries set in place to protect us, so that we can "prosper". Prosper how? In, grace, love, and holiness. The more grace, the more of God's power we have, the more we can love. The more we love, the more we are like God, who is love. The more we are like God, the holier we are. The holier we are, the happier we become. Why? Because we are made in God's image. We were made to be like him. The more in tune we are with that purpose, the more satisfaction we draw from living, and the more alive we become.
Like the kids on "reasons my son is crying", we have a deep seated inclination towards throwing a tantrum when we are told to do something we don't want to. We "stiffen our neck...not listening or taking correction". We disobey. Our problem, and the toddlers' are the same. Pride, and a lack of trust. A lack of trust in thinking that God doesn't want the best for us. Pride, in that we think our way is better. God loves us, he wants to build us up, not tear us down. But in order for that to happen, we have to let go of pride, and in faith step out in trust. The Lord, like any good parent, desires us to arrive at blessedness during and after life, and gives us his commands as a roadmap. Lets not waste time throwing tantrums, and hurry on the way to heaven.
In what habit or attitude do you struggle with pride?
In what habit or attitude do you struggle with a lack of trust in God's goodness?
Where might you be ignoring God's voice in your life?
How does God want to lead you to authentic happiness through his commands?
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts. Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD; let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation. Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us joyfully sing psalms to him. Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the LORD who made us. For he is our God, and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides. Oh, that today you would hear his voice: "Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the desert, Where your fathers tempted me; they tested me though they had seen my works." R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
What habit or attitude is God trying to help you change?