I have a problem with rules. Maybe not intentionally, but my A.D.D. often causes me to be so in to doing one thing that I forget about the rules of something else.
Now, this next confession may get me into trouble with my sister, but I’m willing to sacrifice that to get this message across, as I believe it will change your life, like it did mine when God pointed it out to me.
My older sister loves rules. When we have a family get together, if a board game makes its grand entrance, they are quick to read over the rules and reiterate them every time you break one.
I, on the other hand, tend to be the family clown. If we’re play a game of Monopoly, you will not hear rules coming out of my mouth—maybe a maniacal laugh or two and maybe an “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too.” If we’re playing dominoes, you will never here, “You can’t play your domino there.” You would probably hear, “Hey, kids, teach me how to do the Floss” from the next room.
I am all about the building the relationship part of being with family, and I’m often quick to exit stage left when the rule book comes out. Not that that is good or bad, but it’s just how my brain works—or rather doesn’t work.
I was not really good at sports or board games. I was never good at completing crossword puzzles or puzzles at all. I would often try to hammer in the incorrect answer into a place it doesn’t belong. Nope, I’ve never been good at rules.
While driving, I have this magical button in the vehicle that has saved me from a many of traffic tickets. It’s called cruise control. Why? I often forget to pay attention to that little MPH thingy on the dashboard, so years ago, my husband learned it’s a whole lot cheaper, in the long run, to invest in a vehicle with this special feature when you have a wife who cannot actually tell the difference between driving twelve MPH versus ninety-two because she’s in a deep conversation with her teenage daughter in the car. This girl is usually more focused on building that relationship than the little numbers.
Now, please allow me to make a disclaimer here: I am not saying the rules are not important, they are very important. When they are the rules to a particular sport, you’d have no winner without having set rules. When they are safety rules, they are what keep us from killing ourselves or someone around us, so please do not eat that packet that’s inside the new pair of shoes you purchased. Toss it, just like the rules on the outside of the packet explain. 😉
But I digress….
Recently I read a book called Get Motivated by Tamara Lowe. In it, Tamara reviews different things that cause various people to get motivated, and she teaches how if you learn what causes you to become motivated, you can actually teach yourself to get motivated to do anything. One of the things she says that factors into this enigma is people whom she calls Stabilizers, who love rules, steady routines, and rituals, versus people who are Variables, who tend to be excited more about variety and various experiences.
As I read about this, I thought about the difference between me and my sister. She loves rules. I love to make people laugh. She loves to win. I usually have lost track of the fact that we were playing a game at all. She was the valedictorian. I was the “Thank the Lord, she made it” kid.
During my prayer time this morning, the Lord was pointing this out to me. No matter what motivates people to seek God, He loves us all. Some are drawn by the rules; some are drawn by the magnificence of God—that experience where we encountered Him and He blew our minds! Some are drawn by the order of God and how He is the grand Judge of our righteousness. Some seldom even see the Judge side of God but are drawn through Jesus who said, “Let the little children come to me.”
And let me state this, God is the inventor of holiness and righteousness. He is the only one capable of being the Judge of whether we are holy and righteous, but He is also the one who purchased our salvation from OUR sins through the price He paid by dying for us on the cross. So God is THE God of both the rules that point out our sins and the freedom from them.
(Romans 3:23-26a “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.”)
So, even though I knew the rules and the commandments, they are not the reason I came to God. As a matter of fact, being the Variable, in a family full of Stabilizers, I found that, even though I was raised in a minister’s home, I was the one who ran from God. I struggled with rules. I agonized over losing track. I tried to force myself to stay focused, and I even punished myself when I missed a rule. Eventually, I gave up on myself when I got tired of the struggle, and I walked away from God.
Then, one day in desperation, I called out to God, and He, being the loving God He is, showed up. “Come to me, my little child.” That’s all I needed to hear. I needed to know that Jesus wanted me, without being a stickler to the rules, without being a perfect focuser, without being a stable person at all—Wait, that makes me sound…Well, you get my point. 😉
When I finally did give my life to Jesus, I learned this, I don’t have to be good at the rules. I don’t have to center my life around them. What I have to center my life around is Jesus.
Let me use my husband for instance: I love my husband. If you’d like to read more about how much he means to me, read my blog “Mr. Brown Eyes”. He is my heart, and I cannot imagine my life without him. I love waking to his face and going to sleep with his arm around me. My day brightens when he comes home from work, and any time I get to steal a moment away with just him, it’s like I’m instantly a giddy in-love teenager all over again. Don’t get me wrong, our marriage is not perfect. Read my blog “Say Yes to the Mess”. It’s been messy and arguments at times, but because I love him and I am committed to forever stay by his side, as well as he is with me, we work together during the hard times to get back to the good again.
What is my marriage not like? I am not continually focused on not cheating on him when I see a good looking man walk by. I choose never to entertain the thought because, even though I know the rule “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” my mind is more focused on the fact that I love my husband and I would never want to break him like that. I love the way he loves me, and I never want that to change nor would I want to damage that. I love the way he surprises me and takes me out on special dates or shows up with something small he picked up for me on a trip because it made him think of me. I love when he calls me from work because he “remembered something sweet” I did and he couldn’t stop thinking about me.
No, my mind is not focused on the rule “Don’t commit adultery.” My mind is focused on “I just love this man so much.” so as I thought about this, God reminded me of a verse in His Word.
Matthew 22:37 (When an “Expert in the religious law asked Jesus which law of Moses is the most important…) Jesus replied, “’You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
God loves us. He loves the ones who are the rule keepers—He loved the priests and prophets in the Old Testament and those like King Josiah who found the scroll of the law and wept aloud because he realized how much of it they had broken, but God also loves us Variables. He loves the ones who come to know him through passion and hunger for His presence. He loved David, the man after his own heart, and Peter, who tended to be better at opening his big mouth than following the rules tooth and nail.
With that being said, Whether you are more like my sister, who loves the rules, or me, who tends to forget about them and just runs passionately into a friendship, God desires for us to come to know Him more—building a relationship with Him. He wants us to not just settle with having a rule book in our hands, but He wants us to recklessly abandon caring about what others think of us and come to know Him as the God who says, “My child, come to me.” That’s the place where you can forget to focus on the rules and just build a relationship with Him—just be with Him.