Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Notes made after reading the Book: before man can live rightly with each other, he must first get right with God. The 1st commandment is not "Thou shall believe in a god." We were created with the instinct to believe--to reach for something higher than ourselves. When we come into the world, it is with a natural desire to eat and drink. However, we must be taught to eat and drink the right things. God, as the creator of man, knows that man will reach for something, anything to worship. The moon, the sun, the stars. But God created all these, too. God's 1st rule is that none of the things He created for us to enjoy become something we bow to.
God also placed other desires within us: to gain knowledge, wealth, fame, pleasure, power. In and of themselves, they are not wrong. But when we put these things--or the acquiring of them--before our desire to know God, we have broken the very first commandment of God.
Mother's Jotted Notes in the Margins:
Not in God's Word
What about me
She also underlined a lot of the text, but she underlined twice: "One of our greatest temptations is to put pleasure before God."
I write: I have no idea what most of Mother's notes mean, but I do know what her first note in the margins means.
No where does the Bible attempt
to prove there is a God.
I have never doubted God's existence. Mother made certain I knew of Him from birth. But knowing Him has been up to me. My desire for Him must rise above all other desires.
Do I want to be smart? Of course. I am interested in a variety of things, some I wish to have more than a passing fancy over. Just this past weekend, while in Cedar Key watching the birds, I found myself wishing I knew more about the varieties of these fine feathered friends. Nothing wrong with that, unless I put the knowing about God's creation over the knowing the Creator.
Would I like to be rich? Perhaps not necessarily of the Bill Gates category, what with all it's responsibilities. But to be comfortable in my old age? Sure. To be able to help my children or grandchildren should they need my assistance? Of course. To be able to give to the children's charity I am affiliated with? Naturally! Furthering God's work is of paramount importance to me. Certainly nothing wrong with that. But if I put the gain of money ahead of the mission it may accomplish, then I am walking down a dangerous path.
What about fame? Is it wrong to want my books to do well? To be known for the hard labor of my hands? Certainly, I don't believe there is anything wrong with that at all. But what it I put my work, every day, before seeking God? What if I ignore the rest of the 7th day in order to get a little more done, go a little further, work a little harder? This would be wrong.
And pleasure? Sometimes I think, "I need to pray..." or "read God's Word..." and then I think, "Oh...this show is coming on..." or "I'm tired and I want to take a nap now..." A few weeks ago, our daughter, her husband and their children came to Orlando to visit the House of the Mouse. This is fun. This is pleasure. But they also came by and spent time with her father...her Daddy. And so I think of the times I spend sitting out on the dock over the lake behind our house. I look out on this magnificent vista...and this is pleasure...but while I am there, I am deep in conversation with the Creator. Sometimes I take my journal and write letters to Him. I love hiking in the cool of the forest or along the crags of mountains. Sitting beneath waterfalls, listening as it pulsates into a pool below. These are times when God's creation and my pleasure go hand in hand. I think of what Eric Liddell said: I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure...
But what about power... oh to have it at times! To be able to speak one word and my will be done! To have the ability to right the wrongs! My thoughts wander down two paths: the power of evil and the evil of power vs. the power of prayer. Why do I spend so much time barking at the moon? Why not cry out to the One who has all power and waits for me to speak but one word? Abba...
I cannot think of a single thing that came before Mother's relationship with God. I cannot, in all honesty, say this about myself.
In this year since Mother died, I have been consumed with and by many things. Some are of my own making; others have been pressed upon me. To make heads or tails of this, I must list them--I think--so that I can identify them. And after this, I can--hopefully, prayerfully--see why they have gained a place--any place--above God.
(By clicking on "and when I run, I feel his pleasure, you will have the pleasure of seeing these powerful few moments from Chariots of Fire, 1981)