By David Baumann
A Reading from Deuteronomy 7:6-11
6 For you are a people holy to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on earth to be his people, his treasured possession.
7 It was not because you were more numerous than any other people that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you — for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8It was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath that he swore to your ancestors, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who maintains covenant loyalty with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, 10and who repays in their own person those who reject him. He does not delay but repays in their own person those who reject him. 11Therefore, observe diligently the commandment — the statutes and the ordinances — that I am commanding you today.
A lo-o-ong time ago, when I was just beginning to listen to the radio the way teenagers did obsessively in those days, I was taken by a song called “Wait For Me,” by the Playmates. It tells the story about a boy who is constantly annoyed by a younger girl who traipses after him, professing that she loves him. He never pays her any attention. At the end, she finally marries someone else, and only then, with heartfelt pathos, does he realize that her love was real, but now it’s too late.
Everyone, of course, is in favor of “love” — but when you are really loved, it can be gut-deeply unnerving, because it changes your whole life.
In recent lessons, we have considered God’s demands and the uncompromising standards of his commandments. Today we are told why he is doing this: “It is because the Lord loves you.” Well, that sounds nice, but as C. S. Lewis wrote (in The Problem of Pain), “You asked for a loving God: you have one… not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way… but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds… jealous, inexorable, exacting.” He is the loving Father who is committed to his child’s perfection, his child’s holiness, his child’s becoming truly and fully alive, who passionately turns his child from all rebellious waywardness. It can be very, very hard for the child who’d rather have it easy, the child who’d much prefer to settle for his own standard of happiness instead of the Father’s, who’d rather “get by” than to strive for the straight road.
It’s Lent now; will you let your loving Father, the Consuming Fire, have his way?
David Baumann has been an Episcopal priest for 47 years, mainly in the Diocese of Los Angeles and the Diocese of Springfield. He is now retired and has published nonfiction, science fiction novels, and short stories.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
St. Stephen’s Church, Durham, N.C.
The Diocese of Antsiranana (Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean)