When I read through Exodus, the Israelites really piss me off. God sent them a great leader in Moses. He led them out of a life of slavery and promised to bring them to a great land. In the process, he led them in a roundabout way for genius reasons that would require another blog post altogether. So there the Israelites are in the desert, and they start complaining about being hungry. And God gives them food. From heaven. Nice. They’re all happy and yay, God is awesome, until something else comes up and they start complaining again. Or Moses goes up on the mountain for a while and they decide, “Well, he’s not coming back, let’s just pool our jewelry and make a gold calf out of it and worship that instead.” So God punishes them and provides for them and they’re happy again and they love him and life is great. Until again, something happens and they get derailed. What the heck. They’re all, “We’d rather be slaves in Egypt forever than die out here in the desert,” blah blah blah. As if the One who sent them food from heaven wasn’t capable of bringing them through the desert. Geez, Israelites, get over yourselves.
So there’s that.
In part of preparation for writing, I’ve been transcribing my old journals from the past couple years. These are journals I use in my quiet time. I write words of worship and praise, my prayer list for each day, any insights God’s giving me, questions about Scripture, and—the worst part—sins I’m confessing. That part’s not fun, seeing it in print. But I write them, and I confess them. And then I do them all over again.
We’re talking, within a month, maybe an average of 95% of each day’s entries contain the exact same sins as the other entries. And ironically, it’s usually pertaining to me opening my mouth. Gossip is an issue. Going along with or starting inappropriate jokes or comments is a huge issue. Just generally speaking things that wouldn’t make God too happy, that’s my biggest struggle. Sure, there are other ones that crop up here and there—times my selfishness gets in the way or I allow myself to get bitter about something or someone. Every day it’s something, I won’t deny that. But reading through and typing up the same confessions day after day after day was just like reading Exodus. I’d be all, “Today God did this awesome thing” or “I’m so blessed to have a house and a car and a great family” or “God really showed himself to me” and then it was a laundry list of the same sins committed over and over and blah blah blah. Geez, Rebecca, get over yourself.
Last Sunday at church the pastor made an inspired and convicting comment. To paraphrase, he said where we are is where we want to be. The things we’re struggling with—anger, addictions, even gossip and being generally inappropriate—are the things we want to be doing. Sure, overall, it may suck and we may hate it. But on a moment-by-moment basis we’re choosing each of these things over Jesus. I hate the feeling at the end of the day or my quiet time the following morning when I think of all the things I opened my mouth to say that day when I should have stayed silent. I hate it, I really do. But when opportunities to gossip or be inappropriate come up, in that moment, I’m choosing that over Jesus. I’m choosing to fit in or impress people or feel included in a group more than I’m choosing to glorify Christ with the things I say and, maybe more importantly, the things I don’t.
Funny thing is, I never would have recognized how bad it’s gotten if I hadn’t been reading through my journals. It’s easy to overlook them one day at a time, but when it’s staring up at you and you’re reading it page after page, it’s pretty hard to ignore. I wonder if the Israelites could go back and read Exodus and would feel the same way. “Wow, we acted like that?! We actually molded some animal out of our jewelry and worshipped that instead of the God who rained down food from heaven.” Maybe overall they’d say, “We were total jerks to God.” But in a moment-by-moment basis, they chose jewelry-turned-calves over God. They chose their own comfort over God.
What are you choosing on a moment-by-moment basis?