Trust the Process

wpid-wp-1431658322686.jpegHear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. – Deuteronomy 6:4-9

One of the most holy passages of scripture to orthodox Jews, Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is the beginning of a longer declaration known as the Shema in Hebrew. Notice the usage of these godly words and how they are to be administered. At the same time, look around your own residence and see if you can find anything without a name on it. We make jokes about “Made in China”, “Made in Mexico” and “Made in America”. How often are those material things “on our hearts”? The things we read in the Bible are to be upon our hearts.

Not only that, but we are to “Impress them upon our children.” Here, impress means to convince and to reason with our children through the scriptures. Many of us as Christian adults default to sayings like, “we can’t understand everything about the Bible”, or “some things are just meant to be a mystery”. We have bought into these sayings and made them excuses for not engaging our children or contemplating the implications of scripture. For example, there is growing divide between the children’s version of the Bible and the Adult version of the Bible. We have made the “First principals of the oracles of God” into fairy tales. We elevate the man or woman spoken of in scripture to a position never assigned and give and incomplete picture of what is really going on. Tough passages of scripture like Abraham bringing Isaac to the altar to be sacrificed concern us so we take it out of context and glorify only part of the story. We miss the familial impact of this event, we skip the historical significance, and we gloss over the holiday that is represented by it and all at our own peril. Sure God made a provision for Abraham and that provision points forward in time to the advent of Christ being the ultimate sacrifice for all of our sin. But skipping the three simple applications I pointed out sets us up to believe false teachings.

Case in point, Muslims believe that Abraham did not bring Isaac to the altar but Ishmael. This is one of the places they point to and say see the real scripture has been distorted and this is why Mohammed was sent by Allah to set things straight. Those who only know the Sunday School version of this story may be duped into believing the erroneous Muslim re-telling of the scripture. Their version carries enough truth that some would actually believe it. We must “impress” upon our children the full story and teach them how to cherish the words of God in their heart.

“Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road…” Again, another area where we need much improvement. Studies show that the healthiest families in America are those who eat at least one meal together per day. Not long ago, that meal was also a time to thank God for His blessings and provisions. But sitting at home entails more than eating at a table. It means posting on social media, it means talking with friends and family on the phone, it means talking with our kids about their day, it means engaging our spouses on a meaningful level and connecting one on one with those who are in our house. How often does any topic of the Bible or God come up in these settings? A few weeks back I wrote a blog entitled, “The Power of a Single Conversation” that addresses this very point. We have lost the art of talking to those closest to us and bringing the conversation around to godliness. “When walking along the road”- do any of us walk along the road today? Roads were the ultimate expression of societal advancement back in Moses’s day and everyone walked to the places they needed to go. In Jesus’s day it was the access to the Roman road that made cities busy and growing.

What is it for us? Most of our vehicles are individual vehicles, unless you ride the bus or commute. “Walking along the road” does not mean the same thing today. In order to get an idea of what is meant here, you have to think of places where you can’t help but say hello to others, areas where walking together with someone or in a group is acceptable and encouraged and then you are to lead that conversation toward God and His word.

“When you lie down and when you get up.” My wife and I joke about the medicinal side effects as advertised on TV. Have you ever noticed that some of the most deadly side effects come from sleep medication? We are over medicated today! We medicate to go to sleep and we medicate once awake. However, Deuteronomy tells us we should be talking about the words of God when we lie down and then again when we wake up. What would practicing this entail?

IDF-soldier-tefillin-siddur-Alexi-Rosenfeld-IDF-Spokespersons-Unit-600x474“Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.” Now this verse tends to lose many folks when they read about tying symbols on hands and foreheads. The Orthodox Jews even today practice a form of this practice handed down from generation to generation. It does involve the actual word of God on tiny scrolls placed in small boxes and tied to one’s hand and forehead. Social media can provide pictures and even video of what it looks like and instructional video on how to do it yourself. Others take it less literally and come up with something fancy like “it means you should use your hands to perform the work of God and use your brain to think and reason through the things of God.” Regardless of where you fall on the literal to figurative interpretation, two words should catch your attention, “Tie” and “Bind”. These two words demonstrate attachment. We are to be attached to God’s word. It is difficult to be too literal with attaching ourselves to His words and equally difficult to figuratively attach ourselves to His words. I think we can all agree that attaching ourselves to God word implies a willfulness to connect with the sayings of God in an intimate way. In a way that is meaningful and not superficial, fake, or hypocritical.

“Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” When I read these words, it reminds me of the 10th plague and how they were to take the blood of a lamb and mark their doorframes on both sides and above. Adding the gate is a new twist but as I read through other places in the Bible, I have noticed that the gates of cities advertised what travelers would actually find in each city and where to go to find such things as supplies, a place to sleep, a place to eat and a place to worship. Sometimes, the prophet from or near the city sat at the gate and spoke with passersby. I wonder what our houses say to passersby. As they look upon our house, can they tell if we are believers? And as we leave to go about our business for the day, what are we advertising? Can others tell just by looking at us that there is something different, unique, and even peculiar about us? We called to such according to God’s word.

lightofforgivenessI have found that we have no problem trusting the worldly processes we engage daily but we rarely trust God’s process. We experience it ever so briefly if at all when we attend church or chapel but it does not translate to living God’s word outside the church or chapel. I want you to notice the open, familial, intentional, bold, unashamed and appropriate nature of the proposal given in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. And I want to challenge each one of us to start practicing God’s word in the ways outlined in this passage. We will never reach our true potential in spreading the Gospel of Christ until we do. Living this way is exactly what the Apostle Paul meant when he said,

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:1-2

How about we give God the benefit of the doubt and trust His process?

Mijikai Mason
Disclaimer: The thoughts and views published on the Veterans to Christ blog are those of Mijikai Mason and in no way are meant to represent the United States Army or the Armed Forces.

Bio: Mijikai Mason is an Ordained Southern Baptist minister and Chaplain in the United States Army. He has been in the Army for 26 years both as an enlisted Soldier and now as an Officer. He has been stationed at various bases in the United States and in United States Army Garrison Schweinfurt, Germany. He holds an undergraduate degree in Religion from the University of Mobile, a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in Theology and Evangelism and a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Webster University. Chaplain (MAJ) Mijikai Mason was selected by the Army in 2013, to become a Family Life Chaplain and began his service in this field starting 15 May 2015. He is the Deputy ESC Chaplain and Family Life Chaplain for the 593 Expeditionary Support Command at Joint Base Lewis McCord. He has deployed four times: Desert Storm (1991), Iraq twice (2005-2006; 2007-2008), and Afghanistan (2012-2013). He has a total of 42 months deployed in combat and logistics operations. Mijikai and his wife, Ashley, have been married for 17 years this May and live near Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington with their four daughters.