Deuteronomy 8: “18But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today. 19If you do forget the LORD your God and follow other gods to serve and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish.”
I had picked up our guests from Texas A & M International University that afternoon. Both men were from Korea and were part of a Fulbright Scholars teacher exchange program. While living with Anne and I the next two weeks, they were to be in various schools learning and observing how our local schools offered English instruction, and they were to share some of the cultural wealth of Korea with their host schools.
As we were headed home, I was working hard to listen and to understand, since their English was somewhat accented. But while concentrating on their speech, I neglected to focus on the road sign that warned me that the speed was going to go from 45 miles per hour to 30 miles per hour.
Our guests got a lesson in me trying to persuade the law enforcement officer to give me a warning rather than the $200 plus ticket that I wound up with.
In Deuteronomy, Moses warns people that not paying attention to what God wants and to God’s commands, will begin a two fold process. First we will let the distractions of wealth and comfort creep in. Then we will begin to serve powers that the bible describes as “other Gods”. Finally if we keep on that road we will perish.
Just like traffic signs, God places warnings in our lives. He gives us a conscience, he gives us the scriptures, he gives us his Son as an example and teacher, and he gives us the Holy Spirit, to live inside of us, to bring our conscience back to life.
Lent is a time to get our eyes back on the road, to pay attention to the warning signs. What are the “other Gods” that distract me? What are the warning signs that I am not paying attention to?
My traffic ticket was actually a great gift. It was a reminder that excessive speed is dangerous. What if my distraction had resulted not in just missing the sign, but an accident?
Just like traffic warnings are meant to protect us and others from harm, so too are God’s warnings meant to keep us healthy and safe.