Friday, March 14, 2008

Morning found Lydia and I the sole occupants of our roomy home. No doubt the quiet served her well, since she finished her math early and came to me, asking to play some games Mom had heard of on the internet. I hooked her up to the Hallmark site and settled in for my Bible study, but a few technical difficulties made me rethink. Ultimately, the game allowed her to interact with other kids in a “safe” environment, chatting with prepared comments and playing interactive games. Harmless, no? My mind flitted to those I knew who had become addicted to internet gaming, some even finding outlets through these games for worse addictions. Harmless, perhaps. Safe, possibly. But when do the grey areas turn black? Where do we learn to love that which can later lead us down paths of pain or impurity? A story from the ancient readers I slogged through in my early years rose before me: the young boy whose father gave him sugar with a drop of alcohol. Once he drank it for the sugar, later it became a habit he could not break, and he died in a drunken stupor in a gutter. I know I have an overactive imagination. I know I might be blowing things out of proportion, “But Lydia,” I said. “I don’t think I want you playing this game. I don’t think it’s a good habit to start.” Smiling cheerfully at me, she said, “Okay. Do you have any other ideas?”

Our evening group was still on the puny side, but we’d gained back Nathan. Who can pattern our conversations? Tonight we turned to childhood stories. For my part, my parents told my embarrassing events—how I’d repeatedly gotten in trouble for gorging on candy. Apparently their wisdom broke me of it. It’s a rare day that any form of candy tempts me now. What a sneaky little girl I was. I wonder, am I still so devious?

Reading of the Israelites incessant grumbling in the wilderness always prickles me. Poor Moses, saddled with the responsibility of leading such a stubborn, rebellious people. And held to such high expectations himself! I come to the Meribah with him and behold his frustration as he brings water from a solid stone, but this time he was commanded to speak to the stone. Instead, he rebuked the people and struck the stone. The water gushed forth, but the Lord was displeased. “You have not believed in Me,” he said, “to treat Me as holy in the site of Israel. You will not enter the land.” God is serious about His word. He is serious about His people’s obedience, especially that of the leaders. It’s sobering to realize that God, in His power, can still offer fresh water to others through our failings, but the consequences may still keep us from enjoying His blessings. We serve the Lord, not through making up “worship” schemes of our own, but through obedience.

Today, most powerfully, I know the Lord is good and does good.

Lord, Thou art good and doeth good,
Whate’er my mind misunderstood.
The plans Thou hast are made to last
And guard the future as the past.

Since Thou hast saved my soul from hell
Thou will withhold no good, as well.
I trust Thou knowest what is best,
And in Thy promise find my rest.

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