ALABASTER JARS

Life in Abundance


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The Horse Before the Cart

by Fylvia Fowler Kline

I am God, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of a life of slavery. Exodus 20:1, 2

By the first chapter of Exodus, several hundred years and a few generations have passed since Israel’s bondage had begun. That’s a long time to be in a foreign land. Strange customs, strange gods; pretty much everything is unfamiliar and different.

After the first couple of decades, the lines were getting blurred—traditions were being forgotten, promises broken and fuzzy compromises made. They were only human, without a leader and probably feeling very detached from a once tangible God.

So when God and Moses paired up to lead them out of bondage and into the Promised Land, I imagine they needed an intense orientation session to rediscover their identity—to figure out who they were, where they were going and what they were called to do. Hence the 40 years of wilderness wanderings were the lessons in I am Your God 101.

The exodus from Egypt to Canaan makes a lot of sense when you look at it from this perspective. Yet what impresses me the most about this story is what happens in chapter 20 when God finally spells out the terms of the contract between His people and Him.

He could have handed out copies of the Ten Commandments the night the people of Israel left Egypt. Perhaps the tablets could have been carved into each dining table as families gathered to eat the meal of unleavened bread. Or maybe He could have inserted a copy into every packed bag that stood in the bloodstained foyer, ready for the journey. Or tattooed it on their forearms. That night of grand departure was the perfect time for God to hand out His policies and procedures, His do’s and don’ts. That would certainly have eliminated the chapter after chapter of bad decisions, misunderstandings and a whole lot of whining.

Yet God waited 19 long chapters before He chiseled His law into stone. This long wait says so much about our God. Before He gave them the Law on Sinai, God rescued them from slavery. Before God expected obedience, God poured out his saving grace.

In God’s order of things, His grace is the horse that comes before the cart. His grace is the force that pulls us into salvation.

You can find more devotions like this in the Alabaster Jars series. The first book has 53 readings and the second 99. Consider the books as a gift for yourself or someone else. Whether you buy the paperback or the Kindle version, you’ll be making a difference in a woman’s life–100% of the proceeds go towards teaching women how to read.
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Born Again by Grace

by Michelle Caviness

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you. 1 Peter 1: 3-4, New International Version

On August 29 of last year I was reborn! I ran through the grass with my arms outstretched to the sky, praising God, crying, laughing. I finally allowed years of guilt and unworthiness to roll off my back.

Since I was a little girl, I have carried a lot of guilt, most of it unsubstantiated. Even when good things happened, for some reason I could never entirely enjoy them. My life was filled with many tribulations, which resulted in me taking care of everyone else while feeling sorry for myself. Being the unwanted child of a teen mother compounded the feelings of unworthiness and distrust in me.

I couldn’t trust anyone, not even God. I was determined to do everything myself and do it all perfectly. Obviously, this was neither possible nor realistic. So, I experienced failure, guilt and shame. And all of my relationships solidified these feelings.

Then, during a conversation with a therapist, a light bulb went on that put me on a new path of self-examination. At that time, I was in a healthy and loving relationship. Yet there was something in me that made me feel guilty and uneasy about the relationship. It was as if I was going out of my way to find something wrong with the good thing that I had. I had been brainwashed by circumstances and was now questioning everything. I found myself even questioning God’s love for me, feeling I could never measure up.

Then, my therapist gave me a simple word picture that unlocked my heart. He asked me if I found joy when I threw my child a birthday party. He asked me if the joy on my child’s face gave me joy. Of course! How could I not find joy in giving my child something special? Next, he asked me how I’d feel if my child were to walk away as I was trying to give him a gift. He explained that that was what I was doing to God.

Suddenly, I understood God more clearly. So, on August 29, I accepted God’s gifts. I decided to do more—I was going to open God’s gifts to explore and enjoy them. I am going to make up for lost time. I felt as though a blindfold was ripped away from my eyes. I now clearly see God’s love and it overwhelms me. I stand under His fountain of love, and let my tears wash over me while He heals years of hurt.

Thank you Lord for my new birthday. I love the gifts and will thank you with every breath of my life.