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Saturday, May 1, 2010

What I’m Reading Today: Acts 10

I grew up in a household with a mother who was very devout. As a result of her faith, she was very exacting in terms of what she expected of both herself and her family. For instance, she didn’t want any of us to do things like dance, gamble, or cuss. She was so concerned about language that we weren’t even allowed to use what she considered derivatives of four-letters words – words like “gosh”, “darn”, “gee” or “golly”. Let's face it.

If there was one area she was most clear on, it was drinking. She was a member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement and prided herself on the fact that she had never – and I repeat NEVER – had a drink of alcohol.

During one of our weekly phone conversations, my mother started to tear up. I asked what was wrong, and she said she had done something she had never done before in her 74 years.

“And what was that?” I asked curiously.

“Drink alcohol,” she answered.

She went on to explain that she and my father had attended the baptism of my sister’s step-grandchild. The baptism happened in a Lutheran church. In addition to the baptism, the church was having Communion that Sunday. Unlike the Methodist churches we had grown up in, most Lutheran churches use wine for Communion rather than grape juice. My mother didn’t know that.

When my mother went up to receive Communion, she took the cup as it was offered and drank. It was only then that she realized that there wasn’t grape juice in the cup – it was wine! It bothered her for a long time that she had broken her vow to God and self not to drink alcohol.

I replied, “I think God will understand.”

I was reminded of that experience when I read today’s passage from Acts – for in that passage we were introduced to another individual who was incredibly devout: Peter. Like my mother, Peter prided himself on his incredible sense of discipline – especially when it came to his diet. In fact, in response to a dream he had that suggested he eat meat, Peter responded by crying out: “”Oh, no, Lord. I’ve never so much as tasted food that was not kosher.”

The voice that manifested itself in response to Peter noted: “If God says it’s okay, it’s okay.”

It’s so easy for many of us like my mother, Peter, and certainly myself at times – to get so caught up in our own expectations about how God is supposed to work that we become obsessed with those expectations. We think to ourselves, “A good person isn’t supposed to (and you can fill in the blank here for yourself).”

Sometimes those expectations become so dominant in our thinking that we end up focusing on the behavior itself and losing sight of what’s most important: our vital relationship with our loving Creator.

Today, I would invite you to see if there are any areas of your life where that’s been the case: places where you’ve developed a sense of identity or ego around what you do (or don’t do). If you find such a place, remind yourself of what’s truly most important in life: living with a degree of flexibility so that you can follow the Spirit’s leading. Even if it takes you to places that are “outside of YOUR box”!

Til next time…

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