Thursday, February 7, 2008

Tag, I'm it! - Bible Style

I was tagged by my Dad the other day and thought I would do a different twist on it. The tag was to pick up the nearest book, but I decided to go downstairs and grab my Bible instead to see where it would lead me. Here were the "rules"....
Pick up the nearest book, (of at least 123 pages). Open the book to page 123. Find the fifth sentence. Post the next three sentences. Tag five people.

I opened my Bible to the page and it was the book of Leviticus. I thought the rules said fifth paragraph when I first read it, so I had already decided to do that by the time I reread the rules and realized my mistake. But then after a few minutes I realized I was on page 125, not 123...maybe I need to put my glasses on. But seeing as that what I read really spoke to me, I think it's best to stick with that. Besides, it's actually shorter to do the paragraph than it is to do the few sentences.

You shall not hate your fellow countrymen in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:17-18

It's amazing what reaches out to me at the time I need it. Last night was particularly rough on me when a customer I did a dog adoption with last week came in and started going off on me, accusing me of things that I didn't do. It certainly didn't help that a few other customers were around watching the whole thing...and those who were interested in adopting dogs promptly left the area. When she left, I cried for a couple of minutes, wiped my face and held a puppy to cheer myself up and comforted myself with the knowledge that I did nothing wrong. But last night I started brooding over the situation and I couldn't fall asleep for a bit because my mind kept wandering the things I could have said if I was just that bold and could care less about being fired. I kept telling myself "stop brooding, Mary" but my mind kept going back to that moment, and I could feel myself getting angry and again I was thinking of snarky comments I could have told her. Eventually I was able to focus on a much happier thought and it was enough to get my mind off the situation...moments later, I finally fell asleep.

This morning when I read this passage because of my mistake in reading the tag rules, I couldn't believe how timely it was. Do not hate, do not take vengeance, do not incur sin because of the person, do not bear a grudge...what powerful words! I wasn't wrong in feeling hurt or even upset that someone would treat me in such a way, but I was wrong in brooding over it and I was wrong in allowing my mind to come up with "put you in your place" comments. It's a reminder to me that I can do nothing on my own...I need God to be able to stand up.

It was a huge relief to me when after reading that, the grudge I bore against her was no longer there. Deep in me, I knew that the quick-growing bitterness was wrong, but I think I needed that clear, in your face passage to really point it out to me. Instead of remaining angry at her, I'm now just saddened for her. What is going on in her life that makes her so angry that she takes it out on me? I don't know, but I pray she finds the healing she needs.

Perhaps my mistake in reading the rules wasn't a mistake after all.