Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Are you wandering in the desert?

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Numbers 14:17-19 (New Living Translation): (Moses speaking to God) “Please, Lord, prove that your power is as great as you have claimed. For you said, ‘The Lord is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. But he does not excuse the guilty. He lays the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected – even children in the third and fourth generations.’ In keeping with your magnificent, unfailing love, please pardon the sins of the people, just as you have forgiven them ever since they left Egypt.”

Since my divorce in 1994, I have studied the Bible fairly consistently. As I read through the plight of the Israelites in the Pentatauch (the books of Moses: Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), I can’t help but compare and contrast the Israelites’ struggles with the life of a single parent. I think this passage, as much as any other in the Bible, tells about the choices single parents must make for them and their children, as well as their consequences.

Single parents can either choose to trust the Lord and enter the promised land of milk and honey, or they can continue to complain and grumble about missing their old life and rebel against God’s laws. One can either look behind them and remain lost or look ahead and find the life that God has planned for them. It’s that simple. We can’t change our past, but we can change our present and future circumstances by choosing wisely.

Look at what this brief passage tells us about our struggles and rebellion against God. 1) God loves us – even when we sin against him and rebel; 2) he does not excuse the guilty; 3) in fact, our sins will affect our children and our grandchildren; 4) and yet, God still forgives our sins. No matter how many times we crave our old lifestyle and choose to sin against God, he still loves us and forgives us. He understands our nature, but he still wants us to look within and see our own faults so we can correct them.

And, yet, we must look at the entire passage to understand God’s love for us. Even though he forgives us, he does not take away the consequences of our sinful choices. Divorce and out-of-wedlock relationships bear painful consequences that affect the rest of our children’s lives. Part of those consequences is that we must learn to grieve our losses to fully understand God’s nature. He teaches us the importance of grieving our past, but if we skip that part of being a single parent, the consequences may mean wandering in the desert for 40 years.

Wednesday, I will file my notes from a recent workshop I did on grieving for single parents so that we can understand the process. That also means understanding where your children are in the grief process. You may have been divorced for 20 years, but if you’ve never grieved, it’s as though it happened yesterday. You’re stuck and can’t move forward.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, thank you for showing us stories in the Bible about consequences to poor choices. Most of all, thank you for your never-ending grace. Amen

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