This Spring Break we traveled to Orlando. We have always been a family who enjoys a good trip to Disney and it always sounds like a great idea until about day 2 then you can’t help but questions your sanity. The “most magical place on earth” begins to look a little less “magical.” This year the teenagers weren’t nearly as excited as they have been in the past, mostly because well they are teenagers and if the week wasn’t going to consist of binge-watching Netflix, fortnite marathons, sleep and friends, I am not sure any trip would have sufficed. About 9 hours into the trip Hamilton, our youngest, proceeded to throw up all over the floor board. Now I have a crying 7-year-old who hates being sick, a gagging 15-year-old and a condescending 17-year-old who was convinced we needed to turn around. We stay the course and finally make it the house in Orlando, sick one quarantined and teenagers getting their wish of WIFI and solitude. The illness passed quickly, and we were able to get the vacation/marathon underway. Park after park, from Magic Kingdom to Epcot, throwing in a little Universal Studios and a few character meals, we had a jam-packed week ahead. As we made our way around I couldn’t help but find several parallels of our Disney vacation to the story told by Moses starting in Exodus through Deuteronomy. There was the “grumbling” kids, similar to the grumbling Israelites on a trip to the Promise land, though this was supposed to be “magical” it comes with a unique set of obstacles, weather, lines, expense, mass amounts of people (you get very cozy with strangers while you wait). I couldn’t help but think of Moses often and how in the world he led all of those people, most of whom complained and were ungrateful for what God was doing for them for 40 years! I was exhausted leading our small group of 5, less than I have done in the past when we were all together.
“I am thirsty”
“I am hungry”
“This line is too long”
“He is whining again”
You get the idea, non-stop needs. I watched other families, babies crying, toddlers sleeping, dads fighting strollers, moms fighting back packs and schedules. There were loads of smiles, pictures being taken, accompanied by laughter and an equal amount of frustration and exhaustion amongst everyone. Though you are in a “magical” place your selfish desires can’t be kept at bay. Though the Israelites are finally at the edge of the promise land Moses knows he must remind them yet again of where they were (Egypt as slaves), where they have been (wandering for 40 years) and where they are headed (the promise land).
The book of Deuteronomy is called the “second law,” the review and repeat of all that God has done for them and the commands in which they are to follow. This book is rooted in love! God’s love for his people despite their grumbling, defiant ways. Moses love for them to make sure before he leaves them that they are educated in all they need to know. Plain and simple, love.
I happened to be studying Deuteronomy for our Sunday school lesson this week and as I prayed about what message God wanted me to focus on the most amazing thing happened. On the last day of our trip as we were gearing up for another trek through the park I noticed an airplane in the sky writing letters. As we sat watching what he was spelling slowly but surely the letters L O V E came together. My initial thought was a possible proposal, what shocked me was when the next letter was written in the sky and it was a “G.” At this point we were enthralled in what this message was going to say as the final two letters came together to spell G O D, I knew right then the message He wanted me to share.
LOVE GOD. (period)
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.
We are commanded to LOVE, love isn’t a noun here, it’s a verb. It’s an action! We choose to love just as “God so loved the world He gave (chose) His only son” Loving the way Jesus loved takes effort from us, it’s a choice, not a feeling. Loving others the way God loved us should lead us to action.
LOVE GOD! (with excitement)
7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Loving God with excitement is like hopping on the roller coaster of life passing by the height requirements and trusting the operator. Buckle up! There will be highs and lows, dips and turns, G-force winds that will throw you back and stops that will cause your heart to drop. Grab your children tell them about it, share your “ride” with them so they too can experience what a thrill it can be to abandon oneself to the creator.
LOVE GOD? (The question)
10 “So it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He [c]swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, 11 houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant—when you have eaten and are full— 12 then beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. 13 You shall fear the Lord your God and serve Him and shall take oaths in His name. 14 You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you 15 (for the Lord your God is a jealous God among you),
Do you love him? Really love him, not just in the land of “milk and honey,” but in the wilderness?
He desires to bring us out of the house of bondage but beware that you do not forget His love for us. He is a jealous God and does not want us to have other idols before us. Whether it be work, addiction, desire, our children, anything we put before God is an idol and if we aren’t careful we will forget to Love God and we will be wanderers in the wilderness. When we wander by our own doing, we will then begin to question if this love is really worth it, blaming anyone but ourselves for our choices.
LOVE, GOD (His message to us)
7 The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.
What if we read scripture as a love letter from God, what would that sound like? I rewrote the above scriptures as an example.
Dear loved one,
I have set my affection on you, I CHOOSE you! Not because of anything you have done or can do. I made a promise to you and I will keep it, I will lift you up and hold you all the days of your life. Nothing shall bind you other than the love I have for you. We are joined together, I am consistently aware of you, in awe of you and desire what is best for you. Know that I am God, I am faithful and trustworthy. I created you for a purpose, you are not to live life in the wilderness but in the promise land that I have created for you. Love me with all your heart, your soul and your strength just as I love you.
1 John 4:19 says “We love Him because He FIRST loved us”
This was Moses farewell speech to the Israelites. What would that look like for you? What lessons will you leave your children, what will you be remembered for? What legacy will you leave? Love requires action!
Just like a trip to Disney, the journey may be tough, the wait may be long, we may become parched thirsting for more, the ride may be fast with twists and turns but the end result, the true “Most magical place” will be worth it.
What punctuation are you adding to LOVE GOD?
Until Next Time,