My brother and I were just reminiscing about coming home from school and seeing our grandfather in the heat of the day, stripped to the waist and sporting a bandana to catch the sweat dripping from his forehead, (and what was left of his grey hair), out mowing the lawn. He and Grandma had been visiting our family, and he was not one to merely luxuriate when there was work to be done.
And why not? I mean, c’mon, he was only in his 70’s…
Owning property is a never-ending lifestyle, to be sure, and if you’re like Bob and I, whose only claim to fame is the ability to change a light bulb, then it becomes even more challenging. I did try to hang wallpaper—once. (For the record, of the two of us, I tend to be the one who tries to “fix” something first, whereas my husband with all the letters behind his name doesn’t even bother….just call the plumber.)
The truth is, they—the carpenters, the plumbers, the electricians and the lot—they know that they’re doing. I’ve seen them at work. It’s really impressive, you know, where there was no wall, now there’s a wall, with windows and lights and paint. Or maybe new carpet. Or a vaulted ceiling. And, once the tools are put away and the dust has cleared, if I do as I’m instructed to take care of it, it should all last a long time.
Here the Hebrew nation is about the kick up some serious dust as they go into the Promised Land. Moses is recapping their past few decades:
“But you have seen the LORD perform all these mighty deeds with your own eyes! Therefore, be careful to obey every command I am giving you today, so you may have strength to go in and take over the land you are about to enter.”
I see an interesting sequence here.
To begin with, this is addressed specifically to people who had first hand experience. They had witnessed God’s provision and His “mighty deeds”. With that knowledge came responsibility—
The responsibility, then, was obedience to the One who had allowed them to witness those miracles. In other words, the experience of His presence was an act of grace that not everyone (up to that point in time) had been privy to. And every act of grace carries with it the weight of personal responsibility.
Lastly, obedience to God, although a worthy end in itself, was also a means to an additional provision: strength. Like taking care of my property, it takes a certain amount of vigor to maintain (dare I say “conquer”?) the challenges of home ownership; I can only imagine what it must have been like going into the Promised Land. So I find that the people’s strength to conquer and maintain was uniquely tied to their obedience to God.
Okay, time to do some never-ending work in the garden. (At least I can to that much without having to call in a plumber.)
Deuteronomy 11:7,8 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.