“If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, then I will give you your rains in their season and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest and the grape harvest shall last to the time of sowing. And you shall eat your bread in the full and dwell in your land securely. I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid.” Leviticus 26:3-6
God’s blessings are predicated in our obedience. We should know it. My mother did. She was no Bible scholar but when she wanted to instill in me that obedience was good she would point to the bad results of my willfulness and say, “See what happens when you disobey?” Then she would lovingly clean a scraped knee or apply ice to a bump on my head. I often saw this obedience as the condition a punitive God imposed on me 1) I would never be free of his disapproving gaze and 2) I would always be subject to his punishment because I disobeyed “A lot.” No wonder I grew up believing that God was a mean celestial ogre, a spoil sport who was waiting for my most minimal transgression to wag his disapproving finger at me. No wonder I tried so hard to disentangle myself from his yoke.
Eventually, at age 40 facing spiritual bankruptcy, God revealed to me–free of charge–the full measure of his love. It was an easy decision. I came not kicking nor screaming to real belief in God, but drawn powerfully by a tantalizing offer. “Come to me, and you will never thirst again”. I understood then that his correction (when it does happen) is not an angry, hateful, gesture but rather a loving and rectifying measure to keep me on track. A reminder that I do have a Father who cares–one who corrects his children to prevent further damage or further descent into darkness. Disobedience cuts life short. Delays rains. Stops blessings. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it. I know it.
But just as disobedience brings pain, obedience brings blessings. When you obey, resources meet the needs, friends show up just at the right moment to lend a hand when our strength was beginning to wane, prayers provide direction to uphold us through the constant demands on our bodies and minds. I like how the “threshing” from the last fifteen years of our marriage has lasted until the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest until the time of sowing. And I hold on to the promise that I shall have “peace in the land, and I will lie down and none shall make me afraid.” In the circular happening of our seasons there is a common thread. I can hold on to the hand of the one who made me and follow his leading to walk into every season.