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Making it Up as I Go

Making it Up as I Go

Moreover, you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen and blue and purple and scarlet yarns; you shall make them with cherubim skillfully worked into them. Exodus 26:1

In addiction medicine, in alcoholics anonymous, and in chemical dependency treatment, there’s always an interesting relationship between the addicted and those who’re trying to help. Those who’re trying to help usually prescribe specific changes in behavior – You need to do these things. The one struggling though, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, often believes he (or she) knows best. So, he makes up his own rules as he goes. Complete abstinence? No. I just need to cut back. Go to meetings? Nah. I can do this on my own. Follow God? That’s silly. I am my own higher power.

The mentor in the relationship, often sober himself (or herself), knows what it takes to find recovery, but the one struggling doesn’t want to do all that, so he picks the rules he’s willing to follow. You can imagine how well this works. It doesn’t. I’m not saying that there’s no way to get sober except the 12 steps. I am saying that anyone who approaches the 12 steps, cutting out 7 of them, isn’t committed to recovery and is headed for a relapse. I know. I’ve been there.

This, I think, is part of the explanation behind the rules God provided to his people regarding the tabernacle. In Exodus, the construction of the ark of the covenant, the altar, and the tabernacle are all described in great detail. Why? Why was it so important to follow these ceremonial rules? These weren’t moral choices. God wasn’t talking about murder or adultery. Rather, he was oddly specific about how many curtains were to hang in the tabernacle. Other Biblical commentaries, written by those smarter than me, have suggested that God was teaching his people holiness – that they were to point their lives at him, taking their faith seriously, following every rule. They didn’t get to just make things up as they went. God prescribed a pattern of behavior, and they were to follow completely.

God knew that we naturally go our own way. Even when we know the right path, we’re prone to veer off it, doing our own thing. God doesn’t ask that we follow Old Testament ceremonial law anymore. God does still ask that we follow him daily though, obeying him and loving those around us. Still, we do our own thing. Help my struggling neighbor? No. I don’t want to get involved. I’m far too busy. Like the addicted who believes he knows best, we try to make our own way. If we desire to know the lives for which we were created though, we’ll eventually have to accept that our way is misery and that God’s way is life. We may go our own way, but it is only in following God that we find our greatest needs are met.

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