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Do It Like You Mean It

Do It Like You Mean It

So the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading bowls being bound up in their cloaks on their shoulders. Exodus 12:34

Several years ago, while on a fishing trip out in the middle of nowhere, my son got a fishhook stuck in his leg. In urgent care, I’d just numb it up with a shot of lidocaine, but out there, I had to take care of it the old-fashioned way. I wrapped a piece of fishing line around it, got the angle right, and jerked the line. I knew from experience that when you pull a fishhook, you get one shot, pulling like you mean it. Failing to get it out hurts far more and if you fail, the patient doesn’t give you a second chance. So, if you truly want it out, you don’t do it gently, with indecision. You do it like you mean it.

This sharp decisiveness is the sense I get from today’s passage. It didn’t have anything to do with fishhooks, but in the story, the Israelites moved as if they truly meant it. Having been told by God to be ready to go, the Israelites spent the night clothed, with their shoes on, prepared for their exodus from Egypt. Then God struck with the 10th plague, killing every firstborn child of the Egyptians and in distress, Pharaoh finally relented, telling God’s people to go. And they went . . . immediately. There was no delay, waiting for a more convenient hour. The took their bread, not even waiting for it to rise. There was no dragging their feet. They left their bondage instantly, doing it like they meant it.

There’s a lesson for me in their decisiveness. When I first attempted to find recovery from my drug addiction, I made a half-hearted effort. I stopped using, but I always retained the option of going back. I believed that I could still use occasionally, and so I refused to completely cut off access to my pills. As long as I retained the possibility of using, I’d never be free. To truly find recovery, I had to do whatever it took to cut drugs out of my life. Still, 10 years later, I must continually guard my life against the possibility of going back.

If we’re struggling with some addictive behavior, and if we truly want to be free, we must do whatever it takes to cut that thing out of our lives. We must do it like we mean it. Half-hearted efforts result in full-fledged failure. Cutting that thing out may be painful, but not as painful as refusing to do it. If we truly want to be free, we must do it like we meant it.

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