Monday, November 23, 2009

What will I do with all this free time?

Since I am no longer doing laundry on Sundays, Sunday would loom like a vast abyss of nothingness. I would wake up in the morning, walk downstairs and grab my coffee as the brief desire to throw in a load of laundry washed over me. I resolutely resisted the temptation and closed the laundry room door before heading to church.

Sunday afternoon arrived with greater temptation. There is a part of me that really wants to fold laundry as I watch football with my husband. It seems like a win win to me. My husband gets to watch football, I get that satisfied feeling that comes from loads of clean folded laundry and of not wasting my afternoon.

I know there is more to life than the satisfaction that comes from baskets of clean laundry, so I have been praying and asking God to show me what to do with my Sunday afternoons. One key spiritual concept that I have experienced many times is the principal of replacement. If God removes something from my life (like laundry) it is because He has something better for me. "Something better than football and laundry on Sunday afternoons?" you might ask. I know it is hard to believe but I have found that I often hold onto and value things that are so much less than what God has for me. If God wants me to give up laundry on Sundays, it is because God has something better for me.

Another thing I have learned is that if God takes something away I need to make sure that I wait for the replacement from God and that I do not make my own cheap substitute. While this is hard to do, I have learned that the benefits of waiting for God's best are so great and the cost of not waiting on God's timing and provision is so expensive.

The story in Exodus about the people of Israel and the Golden Calf illustrate this principal clearly. Exodus 32 starts with this sentence, "When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, "Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don't know what has happened to him."(NIV)

A quick look at this situation shows how quickly we forget God's hand and presence in our lives and latch on to an easy substitute rather than waiting for God's blessing. A little more than a month before creating the golden calf, the Israelites were awed by the thunder and lightening on Mt Sinai when God spoke the Ten Commandments and the covenant to Moses. God told Moses, "Tell the Israelites this : You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from Heaven; Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold." When Moses told the people all the Lord's words and laws, they responded in one voice "Everything the Lord has said we will do."

However after forty days, the Israelites got tired of waiting for God's plan and provision so they asked Aaron to make them "gods." As they were devising a plan for the golden calf, God was giving Moses his plan for the tabernacle. A place of communion and connection. The tabernacle was a place where the Israelites could show their gratitude to God through thanks offering and through guilt and sin offerings have a right relationship with God. God had a beautiful complete plan, they had a cheap imitation.

God had replaced their slavery in Egypt with freedom. God desired to have communion and connection to his people, yet in their impatience they decided they could do a better job of taking care of themselves by making their own god. They forgot the miraculous rescue from the Egyptians, being spared from the plagues that ravaged the Egypt, the Red Sea becoming dry land, the daily provision of manna, the battles already won. All of these things had happened in an extremely short time (less than six months by my estimate.) How could they forget? They forgot because they did not remember.

Rather than being just a convenient day to do laundry, I now see the Sunday as a day to remember. A day to remember all that God has done for me; how he has provided for me, protected me, blessed me and brought me through hard times. Dueteronomy 5:1 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. God knew that we needed to remember His power and deliverance in our lives so we could trust Him in big and little things in order to keep from idolatry.

In the midst of football and Legos, Sundays have become days of remembering. Sunday is now a day that is set apart to acknowledge God's presence, protection, provision, and blessing in our lives. I've been reading God Moments: Recognizing and Remembering God's Presence in Your Life by Alan D. Wright and it has encouraged me and provided a framework as I try to remember all that God has done for me.

Over the past several Sundays, our family has written down ways that God has blessed us, protected us, provided for us and been with us in times of adversity. Looking at the lists o
f God's blessing with contributions from my boys and my husband encourages me and helps me remember so that I do not forget. One of the greatest gifts that has come from this is that I am reminded of God's blessings by my children and husband. This experience provides a satisfaction that is way better than piles of folded laundry.