10 December 2012

Out of the Mouth...

I found a piece of paper lying on the counter yesterday, with a sign written in bold, block, eight-year-old letters:

FOR YOUR OWN GOOD, read this and follow it.
Wash these apples before you eat them.
There's dust on them.

Maybe I stopped and looked at it because I was trying to cram-prepare a lesson for church, and when you're in that frame of mind anything and everything can be profound. I did a double-take of it because my lesson had to do with commandments. And I thought to myself, Perfect!!

But I think it's true. Sometimes I see commandments as a "read this and follow it or else" affair. The God of the Old Testament seems to be that sort of person. Harsh. Quick to condemn. Full of fiery wrath. How can that sort of person be reconciled with the God of love and mercy and compassion in the New Testament? And the Book of Mormon? And the Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and every-six-month edition of the Ensign?

I figured it out yesterday. I'd known it for some time, but I was able to process it with the simplicity of an eight-year-old-child. Every commandment God gives has that "For your own good" pre-clause attached to it. The commandments aren't for God. They're for us. He doesn't want us to hurt. It's a dangerous world out there, and there are laws even above the laws of nature that cannot be broken without consequence. So He gives us direction and a safe path. And if we're stupid enough to wander off that path, then the consequences are our fault. 

Who wants to eat an apple with dust on it, much less the industrial dust that's hovered around our house for the last couple weeks? Who would knowingly do that? It seems so easy to grasp. To read. And follow. 

Yet not, apparently. The Israelites didn't get it, I think. Even after the stunning miracles and the explicitly spelled-out instructions...they still didn't get it. Chose not to get it. And they sowed their own furnace. 

Sometimes I still don't get it either. But maybe today I understand it a little bit better than I did yesterday. The rules aren't restrictions; they're protections. Every one of them is a message from a loving, compassionate God who is about nothing else but our happiness and safety. "For your own good, my precious child..."

It's there. Perhaps not in visible ink, but there nonetheless. In every instance.

It makes me want to be a little bit more about my own good too.

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