Imagine with me… You’re going to a birthday party for a relative where you know you’ll meet a lot of new people. Some are good friends, but many of the people there are friends and relatives of people you aren’t as close to. That’s fine, because you all have the same focus: celebrating the birthday.
But while at the party, you notice one man with a backpack. He doesn’t take the backpack off. Every once in a while he sits down, unzips the backpack and takes out a medium sized notebook that seems to be full of scribbled writing. He reads for a moment, then nods his head, replaces the notebook and zips up the bag. He continues on as if nothing ever happened.
This happens several times throughout the party, and even though you try to resist, eventually your curiosity gets the best of you. You find your way over to him and introduce yourself. Small talk happens. At one point, even DURING your conversation, he gets out his notebook to read something, almost like looking up the definition of a word. This seems like the perfect opportunity, so you ask him:
“What are those notebooks you’ve been carrying around?”
He explains to you as if it should be obvious. These are the rules of life. A list and system of ways he’s supposed to behave, and things he’s supposed to do. He shows you his very first notebook, given to him by his parents when he was very young. You see his child-like handwriting, and some of the first words written are simple commands: “Don’t touch the stove.”, “Don’t yell at mommy and daddy.”, “Be nice to your sister.”, and so on.
You can’t believe what you’re seeing, but curiosity continues to tug at you. He’s excited to share, and so give you the next notebook, for his early school years. You notice his handwriting continuing to improve, and see statements like: “Don’t hit other people.”, “Say please and thank you.”, “Stay with mom while we’re at the store.”
Your blown away by the detailed work in his writing. How he has organized every rule he’s ever been given, and you can’t help but ask to see his most recent book. Gladly, he hands you a crisp new book with only a few pages filled. You read just a few of what seem to be very recent entries: “When you go to a little girls birthday party, you should bring a gift appropriate for a little girl.”, “When someone asks if you can take their picture, you should smile and be helpful.”
The writing on some of these, you notice, are not consistent penmanship. You ask him if someone else helps him. “Oh sure” he says, “My mom helps me write new rules whenever I need her to.” You nod as if this is completely normal. But you begin to feel very awkward, and politely tell him you need a drink….nice to meet him.
The scripture we’re diving into this week is Exodus 20:1-17, the Ten Commandments. Some of these verses have become so familiar, we’ve stopped listening for God to speak to us a fresh Word from them. I pray that as you read these, God may open His Word in a new way…