`It takes five books of the Old Testament to tell the Exodus story about freeing the Israelites from slavery to the Egyptians and then bringing them through the wilderness where their rebelliousness was so evident to a state of openness to God’s ways by the end of Deuteronomy. Even then God is not expecting the Israelites to be obedient in the long run, but He wanted to demonstrate the freedom of following His ways. For a few moments in the history of the Jews they were willing, really willing to follow Joshua into the Promised Land and settle there.
Exodus is our story, too. We, too, need God’s help to heal the slavery and rebelliousness in us, just as He did with the Israelites. We also need to be healed of:
“my way or the highway,” our ego, our own sorry self-images
The worship of other “gods,” our adherence to our culture’s ways
All our grumbling and complaining, impatience, fear and anger
All that God created in each of us was overwritten by the culture we grew up in and so we became dependent on its “wisdom” which is supposed to work for everyone. When I look at our culture I see
- greed elevated to the highest level;
- self-reliance and the desire to control our lives;
- denial of the truth about who we are and how we have treated others:
i.e. Slavery of African-Americans, treatment of native Americans and immigrants, wars we should never have fought in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, dropping atomic bombs on civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
- us enslaved to our cultural norms, and an inability to move beyond them into freedom, into integrity, into truth, love, justice and mercy.
- an unwillingness to look at the root causes of any problem, and responding with a quick-fix which rarely solves anything.
God offers us through the Old Testament and Jesus’s teachings these values—freedom, integrity, truth, love, peace, justice and mercy. Buried deeply within us, these are the things we can aspire to along with healing all our pain and suffering, relief from our burdens and much more. He calls us to the life we were each created to lead, hand-in-hand with Him leading the way to our deepest, truest selves. Something of God resides in each of us as a potential to be realized if we would just repent and turn back to our Creator and let Him lead us. For He knows us better than we know ourselves. We are too close to, too involved in our conditioned, enslaved selves, to see what steps we need to take out of our slavery to the world. He offers us a curriculum designed to bring us straight to our best selves, resting in God, if we will follow the voice of the Indwelling Spirit of God.
The journey with God is all about taking down each of the walls that the culture helped us erect, walls that would separate us from God and other people. Walls that have to do with hiding our pain and suffering, with our abased self-images, with the cultural norms, with hiding the truth about ourselves, with our greed and envy, with our competition with each other, with guilt and shame. For God would have us live in gratitude for what we have, at peace with all the challenges of our lives, in truth, with mercy and forgiveness and love.
Jesus promised us tremendous freedom from the slavery of these burdens that the culture loaded us with: “The truth shall set you free,” and “My yoke is easy and my burden light. At first it might seem painful to look at what we so desire to forget, but gradually as we feel the lightening of our load and the ease that His healing will provide, we want more and more to uncover and tear down the walls that we thought would make things easier for us.
The hard truth is that our best lessons come from the challenges and even pain that we have faced. But when we are ready to give them up to the Lord and see the healing He can and will do in us, then we are more and more ready to look at the next thing on the list of things that come between us and God. Oh, the freedom to be gained, the lightness to feel, the burdens to be healed, now seen as a favor to us because of the depth we gain from acknowledging what they have done to us, from living in the truth about ourselves. And then the purpose that God designed us each for will emerge as we live into our own true selves.
Just a word of warning. God did not expect the Israelites to keep up a good relationship with Him and, indeed, they did not in the long run. But He also doesn’t expect us to be perfect, as least not as long as we are in this human body. There will always be issues to be addressed and acknowledged to Him; there will always be moments of lapses. The more we are aware of what is going on within us, the quicker we can turn back to His ways. As I wrote recently about the cross and what it stands for, we live at the juncture of heaven and earth, so we are always having to choose which will lead us. Choose God. Choose life. Choose Love. Choose the freedom to be who you were created to be!
Questions to ponder over the week: What am I still enslaved to? What still comes between me and God? Am I willing to look at these issues with God in prayer? What would the freedom to be fully me as I was created to be mean in my life?
Blessing of the week: May we be the people of God who willingly surrender all that keeps us apart from God. May we lift up our enslavement to God in prayer so that He may heal us. May we live free and clear of the world, but still in the world.
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Check out my other website, deepeningyourfaith.com, for information about spiritual practices and more writings about the spiritual life. New posts 2x a month. 2.24.20s is entitled, “Discipleship has two sides to it.”
 Deuteronomy 31:16-30
 Genesis 1:27 We were created in His image.
 John 8:32
 Matthew 11:28-30
 Deuteronomy 31:16-18