19 Nov Is It Well With YOUR Soul?
This Sunday our sermon series on the Ten Commandments draws to a conclusion. We started this series on Labor Day weekend—doesn’t that seem like a long time ago? Now, two and a half months later, summer heat has been replaced by November chill. Leaves which were still green in early September have changed colors and are now falling to the ground, as the blister on my “raking thumb” attests. Watermelon and burgers on the grill have given way to planning my Thanksgiving menu. The rhythm of the seasons is always on display, if we’ll slow down enough to notice. Our lives also have seasons. There are seasons of growth, of fullness, of suffering, of dying.
The Tenth Commandment speaks to the art of being content no matter what season we are in. “Coveting” is the biblical language that is specifically used in Exodus 20: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
By forbidding coveting the commandment is pointing us towards contentment. So much of our frustration in life comes from wanting things that God has not given us. In our covetous desire, we focus on what we don’t have rather than on what we do have. “If only” is the language of frustrated desire. If only my job wasn’t so stressful. If only my partner would meet my needs better. If only I had more money. If only I didn’t have this chronic physical condition. If only people appreciated me more. If only, if only, if only.
In 1989 “Dear Abby” published a poem written by a young poet, aged 14 at the time. His words still ring true:
It was spring, but it was summer I wanted,
The warm days, and the great outdoors.
It was summer, but it was fall I wanted,
The colorful leaves, and the cool, dry air.
It was fall, but it was winter I wanted,
The beautiful snow, and the joy of the holiday season.
It was winter, but it was spring I wanted,
The warmth and the blossoming of nature.
I was a child, but it was adulthood I wanted,
The freedom and respect.
I was 20, but it was 30 I wanted,
To be mature, and sophisticated.
I was middle-aged, but it was 20 I wanted,
The youth and the free spirit.
I was retired, but it was middle-age I wanted,
The presence of mind without limitations.
My life was over, and I never got what I wanted.
We never get what we want because we’re looking in all the wrong places for all the wrong things. The Ten Commandments are a gift because they point out that our deepest and most profound desires can be filled by God alone. And, oh the freedom we have when we truly grasp that truth and align our lives to it!
Thanks for sharing this journey with me through the Ten Commandments. It’s been a joy to be your “tour guide” and I trust and pray that you’ve experience anew what a gift of God they are.
Yours for the Kingdom,