If Only I Had… Then I Could Obey
“For when I [God] have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to give to their fathers, and they have eaten and are full and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant. And when many evils and troubles have come upon them, this song shall confront them as a witness (for it will live unforgotten in the mouths of their offspring). For I know what they are inclined to do even today, before I have brought them into the land that I swore to give.” Deuteronomy 31:20-21
The Israelites were at the edge of the Promised Land. Moses warned them to keep God’s covenant and to choose obedience so they may live in the land. He warned them what it would cost to break God’s covenant—exile, slavery, sickness, poverty, and ultimately abandonment by God. If they wanted to remain secure and prosperous in the land, they had to keep the law.
Before they entered the Promised Land, God told Moses that when “they have eaten and are full and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant.” And they did.
I am tempted to think if only life were just the way I wanted, then obedience would be easier for me. We love if only lists: if only I had more sleep, if only I had an easier child, if only I had more money, if only I were married, if only… then I could obey God.
Let me reassure you—we all fall short in every condition. The Israelites sinned when they had everything they could ask for. Adam and Eve sinned in Garden of Eden. Even in the most ideal situations, we are still prone to wander from our God.
Only Jesus could keep the covenant perfectly—and He did. He fulfilled the law by never breaking it. Then He took the punishment I deserved and gave me His righteousness so I could spend eternity with him. And even still I sin—and God knew that. So each day—even the best of days—I come again before God to ask for forgiveness, with peace in my heart knowing I am forgiven in Christ.
Let’s stop writing if only lists. Instead let’s cry together, “I need Christ.”
God, please help me to constantly remember and recognize my need for Christ. Help me to stop looking to idols and believing they will give me the power to obey You better. Help to remember I can only be obedience because of Your work in my heart.
How would you finish this sentence: “If only I had _____, then I could obey God better.” What would you say? Do some heart searching today to see where you have constructed idols in your life.