Tuesday, April 28, 2009

This little piggy...

The Swine Flu epidemic is causing more problems than just medical ones. In Israel, there are some people who will be referring to it as Mexican Flu so as not to pronounce the word swine, as pork is forbidden for Jews to eat. "We will use the term Mexican flu in order not to have to pronounce the word swine," said Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman of the ultra-religious United Torah Judaism party.

While this is excessive, as the commandment is against eating pork (Leviticus 11:7), and I know of nothing that is forbidden to pronounce except the names foreign deities (Exodus 23:13; Joshua 23:7), as well as God’s four letter name not being pronounced so as not to take it in vain (Exodus 20:7), it made me think once again how little Christians typically know about any of these laws.
I made the comment to someone at church that I found it odd that Christians have pretty much adopted ham as the traditional Easter meal even though it is a food Jesus himself would never have eaten. She said she’d never thought of that. And isn’t that how it often is? We go to church, fill in the blanks in the sermon outline that tell us what to think and believe, and don’t really give much thought to any of it. We talk about having a “personal relationship with Jesus” yet do not put in any effort to finding out much about him or how he lived. I wonder what he thinks of that. Doesn’t it seem superficial? Can you imagine having a “personal relationship” with your spouse or parents or children yet knowing nothing about their likes or dislikes or thoughts or feelings?
Christians tend to think that because these laws are in the “Old” Testament, they are outdated or not in use or they simply don’t know much about them or think about them. While I do not think Christians are required to abide by them, it can be beneficial to us to learn about them so as to understand more about things Jesus said and did. When we read that he blessed bread, we can know what he actually said. When they “sang the hymn” at the Last Supper, we can know that it was Psalms 113-118. Knowing these things about Jesus is enriching, yet we’re often too busy to learn. Why does the historical Jesus matter, we ask, when all we really seem to care about is what he can do for us here and now. It matters a lot, and I would encourage more Christians to take the time to learn .
So we may laugh or roll our eyes at the excessive nature of changing the name of the flu from Swine to Mexican, but at the same time, we are excessive on the other end, in that we don’t think about things like this at all.

Silver Linings

A few weeks ago, I was reminded through experience of the phrase "Every cloud has a silver lining"1. I had to go to a grocery store in another town to buy some lamb, which is not available in my town. I got dressed to go, got my son ready, made sure I had snacks and a sippie cup, buckled him into his car seat, and got in the car. It wouldn't start. Very annoyed, I got out, unbuckled him, brought him back inside, took off our coats, and found other things to do. Later that afternoon when my husband came home for lunch I took his truck to go run my errand. As I switched from diaper bag to purse, I discovered something: my wallet had not been in my diaper bag like I'd thought it was. If I had been able to go to the store earlier as planned, I would have been there without any way to pay for my purchases!

Though I'd been very annoyed that my car wouldn't start, that misfortune saved me from even greater annoyance and misfortune. It made me wonder what things we face daily that annoy us that actually serve to keep us from experiencing something worse.

It is definitely in my nature to get annoyed first and not think what good could come from what I'm experiencing, but I'm starting to think I need to try to be more deliberate to try to look at this irritations from another viewpoint and train myself to recognize the good to come out of them.

1I thought there was a verse somewhere in the Bible that this phrase evolved from, but I can't find it. If anyone knows, please let me know!

Friday, April 03, 2009

But I Want It NOW!

Being a parent is teaching me more about God than I have ever learned. I think that it’s probably not something that can really be understood until it is experienced. I imagine the other parents out there are nodding their heads and smiling a knowing smile.

My son is 1 ½ and this morning he wanted to go out the door when Daddy left for work. I told him no, that he couldn’t go, that he and Mommy were going to go out later. Did he understand any of this? I doubt it. All he understood was that he couldn’t do what he wanted to do when he wanted to do it. He cried and wanted to be held for a couple of minutes and then he eventually got over it when I said we should look for his black car.

It made me think about when God tells us no. We say “why God why?” or “I wanted this so badly”. But if God is our parent, he knows better than us. We think that He seems distant when He doesn’t explain Himself, but really, would we even understand His explanation if He gave it? Just as I know what is going to happen later in the day with my son, so God knows with us. And just as I can explain to my son all I want, he still won’t understand me because he doesn’t have the understanding of language or time that I do. Perhaps it is that way with us and God. We don’t have His understanding of time, and likely don’t have His understanding of language, either.

When God tells us no, we sometimes cry and we turn to Him for comfort and understanding. And, eventually, we get over it and move on, distracted by something He tells us to look for instead.