Sam is a music teacher, worship musician, youth ministry minion, shameless man-blogger, and author (in-progress). He chronicles his journey from suicide attempt towards a life lived fully and recklessly alive.
@aliverecklessly on Twitter
Come a little closer my friend, I have a secret to tell you: I don’t love the old testament. (gasp!) The truth is, I have spent a disproportionate amount of time reading its alluring and flashier sequel. When reading the first half of the bible, I constantly wonder what most it has to do with me in 2016 (or what God could possibly be teaching me from the “life-changing” instruction manual for creating an acacia wood table for the tabernacle).
Yet, this year I have found a new reverence for these incredible words tucked away in their dusty pages are the core of how we became who we are. They are the stories of our ancestors: the fight, the mistakes, the do-overs, the temptations and the blood of those who went before us. They are the essential foundation of who God is and his ceaseless and passionate love for his creation since our very first days of existence.
Could it be true? Could the Old Testament actually have insane amounts of wisdom for everyone, even an adventure-seeking millennial like me?
“So what if I lied, I would have got in serious trouble,” he said from the green leather chair of my peaceful living room. “I wasn’t about to let that happen.”
I took a slow, deep breath. “What would it be like if you were a man who told the truth all the time? I mean, didn’t you deserve the consequence?”
He paused for a beat and looked away. So maybe I wasn’t going to win this one.
After he left I spent some time journaling and talking to God under a cozy blanket. My pen began to fly as I sat for a long time with this simple, yet haunting question:
God, does it matter if we lie?
With my recently renewed interest in the Old Testament, I immediately thought of the Ten Commandments and flipped to Exodus 20:1-17. As I opened the golden-edged pages of my well-worn bible, I read the familiar passages.
YOU SHALL NOT (in the NIV translation)
and flashed back to the even more well known:
THOU SHALL NOT
The words on the page felt harsh and cold. They didn’t seem to match the God I know – the kind, gentle, and loving Father; the Dad who wants what is best for his children at all times in every circumstance.
Could it be that I have missed something about those ancient tablets?
After some research, I found an author who suggested a better translation is actually “Statements” rather than “Commandments.” This seemed easier to swallow because the God I know doesn’t force anyone to do anything and certainly doesn’t make us to love him. He does promise that if we live life His way, and follow the teachings of his son Jesus, we will not perish but find an eternal kind of life – a life that is fully and recklessly alive.
What does a man (or woman) look like who completely follows God’s 10 Lovingly Great Suggestions Commandments for a great life?
I mean, I guess it would like something like this:
A man who loves God and puts Him first in his life, choosing to love and serve all of God’s people.
A man who doesn’t idolize money, power, fame, status, vanity, awards, or recognition, but humbles himself before the Lord.
A man who never uses God to justify his sin and honors God with the words he chooses.
A man who works hard, but takes time to rest and live life to the fullest every week.
A man who honors his father, his mother and his family. A man whose family knows they can count on to come through for them no matter what. A man who loves and laughs with his nieces and nephews, and cares for his elderly ancestors.
A man who is kind, gentle, and forgiving and never uses his God-given body strength to hurt or murder outside of protecting the ones he loves.
A man who is faithful and steadfast in his love for his wife. A man who loyal and supports his spouse every day of their journey together.
A man who never takes what doesn’t belong to him and inspires anyone around him to become a better person.
A man who is honest in every situation and gains trust by consistently doing the right thing (and apologizing when he doesn’t).
A man who is completely grateful for every blessing God has given him and doesn’t waste his time comparing his life to the lives of those around him.
Well that sounds pretty dang good to me. That is the man I want to be every single day I am alive and I think that’s what God wants for all of us.
So, this year I am learning to love the Old Testament by choosing to believe that these ancient stories survived for a reason. Turns out, those dusty commandments actually do still hold true, yes even for this twenty-something suburban white boy. (I guess that’s why they were written in stone…)
I hope my young friend will see the incredible beauty in following God’s beautiful blueprint for living a wicked great life. Don’t get me wrong, no part of living that way is easy. Yet, what waits on the other side is far greater than any consequence or disappointment, those things will pass.
Knowing you are living the good life God intended you to, that will last forever.
And when you start getting a taste of that, no one will have to command you to operate that way. You’ll do it out of complete joy for the perfect father who loves you more than you could ever imagine.
What Are Your Thoughts?
I would love to interact with you and get your thoughts on Sam’s guest post! Leave a comment below or visit Sam’s website or social media to contact him directly.