To live the truth 2

By Kristine Schroeder

Lessons Learned

I got a D in grammar in sixth grade. It wasn’t well received, especially considering dad was a former English teacher. Those grammar rules about subject and object pronouns and whether to use a comma, a semi colon, a colon or nothing at all seemed pointless. As I tried explaining to dad, “When will I ever use these rules anyway?” Thankfully, my protests fell on deaf ears, and I had the choice of raising my grade or living a dull life. I chose the former.

When I finished the book of Numbers in the Bible, that incident came to mind. Moses is nearing the end of his life; the people are about to cross into the Promised Land 40 years after escaping slavery in Egypt. Moses is now guiding the children of the original sojourners. It has been an arduous journey. From the beginning, the people grumbled about their conditions even though God was always with them providing manna, meat and water. 

Repeatedly, they said, “Would that we have died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by fleshpots and ate bread to the full.” They appeared to desire the comfort of their known slavery rather than the chance to live freely under God’s protection in a land of milk and honey. How weary Moses must have felt! 

In Numbers 20, his frustration finally reaches the breaking point. After the people clamor once again for water, God instructs Moses, “Take the rod … assemble the people, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield water.” Instead, “Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice and water came forth abundantly.” Moses, Israel’s leader, disobeyed God only once. Yet, for this lack of trust, he was not allowed to enter the Promised Land.

I was shocked. This man, often called the precursor of Christ, considered the humblest human on earth, was subjected to such harsh judgement. Moses, however, did not protest. He understood. As their leader, he was held to a higher standard. In this capacity, his actions needed to reflect total trust and obedience to God.

As adults, parents and members of our community, God also holds us to high standards. We are the models for the next generation. Is it possible to teach God’s laws if we do not take the time to understand and practice them ourselves? We need to take care that our response doesn’t parallel my sixth grade self, asking, “Why our these rules important?”

Most of us were taught the Commandments in grade school. Love God above all else. Treat your neighbor as you want to be treated. Keep the Sabbath holy (go to church). Honor your father and your mother. Do not bear false witness. Do not steal. Do not kill. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife or property. They are clearly spelled out.

Yet, we are the Israelites! We walk off course at the first sign of difficulty, inconvenience or confrontation. We continually make exceptions, convincing ourselves that taking supplies from work, gossiping about someone, or ending the life of an unborn child somehow doesn’t relate to the Commandments.

“I Did It My Way” has become the mantra of the past few generations, and it is taking its toll on our progeny. As adults and leaders, it is imperative that we examine the rules and rationale of God’s laws.  A perfect place to begin is the Catechism. We then need to pray for God’s guidance that we live His Commandments, and by our example encourage the next generations to also trust God’s wisdom.

The other day Jim was teasing our grandsons about their hairstyle. (Hair seems to be the mark of each generation.) One of them replied, “Papaw, this is how all the guys wear their hair.” I smiled. Few of us, especially during our teenage years, want to stand out. 

Yet, that is exactly what God calls us to do, “Be in the world but not of it.” This article wouldn’t be possible if I hadn’t learned and practiced my grammar rules. Living the truth today is impossible if we do not understand and follow God’s rules. Only then can we truly be Christ’s disciples.