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Squirrel!

Squirrel!

The people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” Exodus 32:1

Our family dog, like most dogs I suppose, is easily distracted. He will be at the door, whining to go outside to empty his bladder, but once he gets outside, he immediately forgets why he wanted out in the first place. There’s just so many things to smell and explore. And if a squirrel happens to be in the yard, he’s off and running, full bladder and all. Like I said, he’s easily distracted.

This distractibility is what I was reminded of when I read today’s passage. In it, God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, delivering his commandments to his people. Moses apparently took too long talking to God though, because the Israelites waiting below got restless and quickly became distracted. Just a few chapters earlier, they promised to follow God, doing everything he commanded – All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do (Exodus 24:3). Now though, with Moses and God off talking alone for a few minutes, the Israelites immediately set out to violate the first two commandments, demanding that Aaron make an idol for them to follow. Though they’d just promised to obey God, they were easily distracted and took off chasing their metaphorical squirrel – a golden calf idol in this case.

We can see the absurdity of it in my dog. He’s never once caught a squirrel. He’s never going to catch it. But still, he can’t not chase it. And we can see the absurdity of it in the Israelites, who, in one breath promised to follow God and in the next, demanded Aaron make an idol. It’s always easy to see someone else’s stupidity because we can be rational about it. That’s the problem of course with our metaphorical squirrels. No matter what they are – drugs, food, porn, shopping, or screen time – they derail and distract our rational thought process, taking us off in some direction that we never intended to go. Then, as the consequences of our behavior come crashing down, we ask ourselves, How did I get here?

Life is one continual distraction – if we allow it to be. Daily then, if we desire that our lives go in a certain direction, we must purposefully redirect our course. Daily, we must point our lives at God, following him. Like my dog, we’ll always be tempted by distractions, but if we choose, we can daily reorient our lives in the direction we truly desire to go.

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