Deuteronomy 17 – No One is Above the Law

“No one is above the law.” This statement is cliché and almost laughable in this day and age. High officials regularly navigate around the law, gang members seem to do whatever they choose, ministers sexually abuse women and children…the list goes on and on. Some are caught and tried, but a large majority of people will continue to violate the law, seemingly undetected.

Deuteronomy chapter 17 stresses the importance of careful and complete adherence to God’s law; whether you’re a lowly citizen or a high official.

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Deuteronomy 11 – The Freedom to Choose

“Life would be so much better if I could just get people to do what I want them to do.” Much of our stress and frustration is due to wishing, expecting and trying to get people to do what we want them to do.

Deuteronomy chapter 11 reminds us that God is the only one in existence who has the power to make people to do what He wants them to do…and He doesn’t do it! He lets people choose (Deuteronomy 11:26) God spells out our options and the consequences for those options. He also urges and encourages us toward the better choice. But He won’t make that choice for us.

If God can save us difficulty and problems by making us do what we’re suppose to do, why doesn’t He?

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Numbers 14 – Trading “I Remember” for “I Can’t Wait to See”

I was working in the oil fields of West Texas when God called me into full time ministry. After some preparation, I moved my wife and two small children to Ft. Worth, TX and began my seminary education.

At first, it was exciting. But the new eventually wore off when the demands of graduate school kicked in. There were mountains of books to read, a constant demand for papers to write, and tedious projects to complete. All of this (along with holding down a job) increased the stress on my marriage and family. Too little time, too little money, and too many expectations began to wear on us.

I found myself thinking, “I miss the good old days.” Graduation was in sight, but this nagging thought kept getting louder. Others around us called it quits and went back home. But we stuck it out, and it turned out to be one of the best things we’ve ever done.

So I can relate to Numbers chapter 14, and the feeling of being in that difficult in-between spot. God’s people were not in slavery, but they still were not in the Promise Land. God was asking the Israelites to do something that required a lot of risk. Consequently, they longed for what was behind them, rather than what was ahead of them.

We must be willing to follow God and step into the freedom of the unknown, rather than retreat to the bondage of the comfortable. The key to is believing God is good (Psalm 100:5) and brings all His power to bear for one purpose..our good. If we believe this, we will launch into the risky unknown, knowing that no matter what happens, it will be better than the past.

Let’s trade in our “I remember” for “I can’t wait to see.”

Facing the Witch

Dorothy and her companions reluctantly leave the safety of the Emerald City to do the unthinkable…face the Wicked Witch of the West. They try to be confident, but are far from it. They travel through a dark and ominous woods, weak in the knees and constantly looking over their shoulders for a much feared attack.

The attack comes as fearsome images begin to darken the sky and swarm around Dorothy and her friends. Dorothy is caught in the clutches of flying monkeys that carry her away to the witch’s castle. There she finds herself alone with the one she has feared and tried to avoid since the beginning her journey…the Wicked Witch of the West.

She fearfully stands face-to-face with the witch. Dorothy wants her freedom and the witch wants what is left of Dorothy’s power and independence…her ruby slippers. Knowing there can only be one winner, the witch threatens Dorothy’s life then leaves her alone to sink into the depths of fear and desperation.

But her friends are loyal and loving, and they will not abandon her. Covering rough terrain and difficult circumstances, they march into the heart of Dorothy’s darkness and break down the door that holds her captive.

Reunited, Dorothy and her friends make a break for it. They try one escape route and then another, but they can’t escape the witch. Cornered by the witch, this innocent little girl unexpectedly discovers the power to destroy the witch. In an attempt to save the scarecrow from flames, Dorothy throws a bucket of water. The liquid redemption drenches the witch, melting her into a puddle of goo on the grimy castle floor.

And with that, the war is over. Dorothy is stunned that something as simple and pure as water could bring the witch’s reign of terror to an end.

With the witch’s broom stick in hand, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion head back to the Emerald City to see the Wizard and finally claim what they’ve longed for. Dorothy will finally take the road out of Oz.

As a survivor, it can feel like a punch in the gut to have come so far and gotten so much better only to find out you still must face the witch. Your witch may be the insult of unfairness and injustice. Your witch may be the failure of others to protect you. Your witch may be the abuser(s) who have seemingly escaped justice and consequences. Your witch is whatever is large, looming, and seemingly unredeemable about your abuse.

Some survivors resist and even refuse the idea they must face their witch, deciding they would rather stay where they are…out of the woods but never really home. Others reluctantly accept it and start down the road to a final show down.

The road to your witch is a dark and frightening path. It can cause your heart and mind to race with dreadful possibilities. That’s why it’s good to travel this road with others you trust. Never underestimate the power and importance of traveling with others. You need their strength and encouragement when the “flying monkeys” threaten to swarm you and sweep you away.

But in the end, if you want to be free, you and you alone must face your witch. And make no mistake, there will be a winner and a loser. Either your witch will own your life or you will.

So what is the bucket of water that will bring an end to your witch’s fearful reign over your life?

It is the water of forgiveness. I know the mere mention of forgiveness may repel you in disgust, but hear me out. I am not talking about a quick and easy forgiveness that cheapens the offense and the damage done to you. I am talking about a hard fought forgiveness that comes at the end of a long hard journey. I am talking about a forgiveness that is undeserved by the offender, but freeing to the offended. I am talking about a forgiveness that covers the offense and frees you from waiting for a restitution that may never come and will never be enough. When you finally apply the water of forgiveness to the evil that has ruled you for so long, you will finally be free from your witch. (I’ll write more about forgiveness in a future post.)

When you walk away from this final showdown, you will still carry mementoes of your experiences. Instead of a broom stick, there will be memories, triggers, and feelings from the past. But like the broom stick Dorothy carried back to the Emerald City, your mementoes will no longer have power over you.

At that point, you are ready for home.