Thursday, January 10, 2008

Regress is Progress

by Kristi Vrooman

Last week I was on vacation, so I had TONS of time to think and post thoughts, and read scripture, and dream up grand illusions of what I might do during this month. I even had my friend Anna write the commandments in Leviticus that I wanted to focus on for the week in tiny writing so that they'd fit in the locket I received as a Christmas gift. (Proverbs 6:21-22): "Bind [the commandment of your father and mother] continually on your heart; tie them around your neck. When you walk about, they will guide you; When you sleep, they will watch over you; And when you awake, they will talk to you."

(Notice how the shape just happened to resemble that of the stone tablets upon which the 10 Commandments were inscribed. Coincidence? I think not.)

But this week, well, hasn't been the same. Why? Mostly because I've never been good at living my life in a balanced way. I tend to swing to one side of the pendulum, remain there until my world is about to tip over, then hastily run back. I neglected the "rest of my life" last week because I was engrossed in this experiment.

The "sabbath lite" I took from Saturday to Sunday could barely be called a sabbath, because I just didn't plan well. So my to-do list was hanging over my head much of the day, and this week I've REALLY been feeling it. Not much time to read Leviticus, or build that tabernacle I've been meaning to, or figure those oil lamps out, or learn how to edit those videos I took of my and Kristen's trip to a deli in the South End on our quest to find meat that hadn't been strangled (it cost $9 a pound-more on that later), or...

But here I am with 15 minutes left to go on Wednesday evening, and all I have to say is that although I was irresponsible last week by paying attention only to levitical issues, and although I feel like so much has had to remain undone, (like these poor, neglected oil lamps)

this week has been much better than the many, many weeks prior to the beginning of January 2008.

As opposed to much of last year when I'm ashamed to say I wasn't reading scripture in a systematic way, or praying much, or, or, or, even during this busy week I've been reading Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Proverbs, James and Hebrews. My entire outlook on life has changed since the beginning of last week. It's no longer such a struggle to maintain the speed limit, and my anger level while driving has decreased significantly. :) The way I understand the Bible (especially Hebrews) has changed drastically. I see Jesus in a WHOLE new way. I see other people in a whole new way, I see myself, and the way I relate to G-d and others, in a whole new way. G-d has been revealing Himself to me in such mundane areas as dental hygiene (although I must admit, most of my "aha!" moments seem to happen during tooth brushing or flossing or the like).

It seems that my experience is like that of Brandy's (just read her note from today), in that when I'm reading scripture now, I don't want to stop. While I'm reading, question after question comes up (I'll save them for another day). Maybe this is just me, but I'd say perhaps 90% of the time I hear G-d speaking to me through His written word. Funny that during those times in my life when I'm not reading much scripture, I wonder why I have a hard time hearing Him.
I can't express enough how wonderful it is to open the Bible now, and feel again like I'm part of the story being told. To read Hebrews, and really know what Paul was talking about when he said in 9:13-14: "For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to G-d, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living G-d?"

Many pieces of this gigantic jigsaw puzzle (the Bible) are beginning to come together. So after 9 days of attempting to live levitically, I am still, by any calculation, a terrible, terrible sinner. But progress is progress.

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